This year's Budget has to create some movement in a positive direction for the many millions of people for whom the past six years have been cumulatively, increasingly difficult. Many people attending foodbanks have jobs. Too often those jobs are insecure, with uncertain hours. Poor people need better base pay, more employment security, more full time rather than part time work.
After months of organising, meetings, prayer, and listening to grassroots groups, bishops and charities I have finally begun my forty day fast. For the next forty days - Ash Wednesday until Palm Sunday - I'm going to eat no food. I'll have a glass of fruit juice each morning and the water left over from steamed vegetables in the evening; and keep hydrated of course.
The debate about foodbanks exposes the dark secret at the heart of this government: they just don't care. Asked about the growth of foodbanks, David Cameron always gives the same reply: that demand for foodbanks went up tenfold under Labour. He is implying that things are no worse now than before the election. The facts, however, tell a different story. One of the reasons the extraordinary Trussell Trust has proved so irksome to government is that it keeps meticulous statistics. And it refuses to suppress them.
One mention of food banks and we are all supposed to break out the Andrex tissues, wipe away our tears of sympathy and empty our cupboards into the nearest food bank donation box. Unsurprisingly, my eyes are as dry as they were at my mother-in-law's funeral. Gove says food bank users have themselves to blame for being "unable to manage their finances". I agree.
Last night many senior representatives of NGOs and parliamentarians gathered in the House to debate food poverty, under the umbrella of Just Fair. Useful and important things were said. But the really powerful word came from several speakers, all women, who spoke about the reality of living in food poverty.
None of this was necessary. None of it was inevitable. Much of it is a direct consequence of policies introduced by one of the most ruthless and callous governments this country has ever seen. And for that same government to turn around and celebrate the charities forced to pick up the pieces is not only paradoxical - it's an act of gross hypocrisy.
A Tory councillor's comments have been condemned as "disgraceful" after he claimed food banks "merely enable those who can't budget" and allowed peopl...
As we look back on an event-packed 2012, and realise that the full effect of the Government cuts has yet to be felt, there is a greater need than ever to strengthen and empower local communities across the country. We need to join together to create warmth and humanity in what could be a bleak 2013.