Chancellor George Osborne has come under fire after telling MPs that he has not visited a food bank.
Under questioning today from Labour MP Teresa Pearce of the Treasury Select Committee, Osborne admitted: “No, I have not visited a food bank.”
The coalition’s welfare policies have been accused of leading to a fivefold increase in people having to rely on food banks. Osborne suggested that the use of foodbanks had soared because of the service being advertised in job centres.
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Teresa Pearce said: "The Prime Minister has been to one and most people have helped out at a food bank, but for the Chancellor, it seemed irrelevant to him."
"The reason more people are going to food banks is more people are being referred by experts as they believe there is such a need."
Peter Strauss, from the London Street Food Bank, told the Huffington Post UK that Osborne’s admission was further proof that ministers were “out of touch”.
“They need to come and visit one and get a reality check.
“They’re always telling jobless people to get work but the government needs to put more money into food banks because we don’t even make a penny!
Chris Mould, executive chairman of the Trussell Trust food banks, told the Huffington Post UK that Osborne was “absolutely wrong” to suggest the increase in the use of foodbanks owed itself to a greater publicity drive.
“The Chancellor needs to come and see one and the work it does on the ground.
Mould said that without making such a visit, the Chancellor will lack “on the ground experience”.
“It’d be much harder for him to comment sensitively and in an informed way.”
Mould's comments come as figures released by the Trussell Trust show three times as many people received emergency handouts from its foodbanks in the three months coming up to April this year compared with last year.
Osborne's food bank confession is just the latest in a line of awkward admissions, who in the same session had to admit that he had never struggled to pay rent, and months earlier, had never eaten a Cornish pasty.
Prime Minister David Cameron, by contrast, visited a food bank back in March. However, he made his visit without meeting anyone who relies on the handouts and avoided inviting media along.