Katie Hopkins, the outspoken former Apprentice contestant, has branded food banks "a complete con" and said she wouldn't have opened a single one.

Appearing on BBC1's This Week, she pulled no punches when attacking those "sponging off the state when they could be out working", saying that people on benefits "are happy to sit there, lie in bed and let other people work for them".

Hopkins, who blogs on the HuffPostUK, defended the controversial Channel 4 Benefits Street as she said it showed "Britain at its worst".

By contrast, Independent columnist Owen Jones said the programme was "a medieval stocks updated for a modern format".

In a debate with Michael Portillo, Diane Abbott and This Week host Andrew Neil, Hopkins called for young people to have their housing benefit cut and for "a much further line" on cutting disabled benefits.

To back her argument up, Hopkins said friends had told her of a cruise they went on which had half of the passengers "bragging that their disability benefits had paid for the cruise".

Neil suggested that her tale was an "urban myth", like stories of people spending their child benefit in Harrods, however Hopkins would not back down.

"It's not an urban myth, it's reality", she insisted.

In a blog for the Huffington Post UK, Hopkins wrote: "Food bank users are like terminal cancer patients. There may not be a tomorrow so spend like hell today. It reminds me of children given money in a gift shop. They have to spend it all immediately, driven by a desire to spend not a desire for something they need."