Foodbank Britain at Christmas


In the last month my team and I have referred about the same number of people to the foodbank for assistance as we did in the ten months before that.

By Richard Burden

Originally published by HuffPost, 24 December, 2015

Last week, I called in to say hello at Northfield’s local Trussell Trust foodbank. Back in the Commons I always hear Government ministers talk about Britain’s strong economy and how the number of people without a job is falling. And, yes, for a lot of people, things are feeling a better than they were a couple of years ago. But there is another side of the story, and you see it for yourself at the B30 Foodbank.

The sheer scale of the operation these days is both astonishing and impressive. The fact that it has to be so big, though, underlines that something is fundamentally wrong with the way Britain operates at the moment. My office is one of the local advice centres that is authorised to refer people to B30 foodbank for support. In the last month we have referred about the same number of people to the foodbank for assistance as we did in the ten months before that.

It’s not that we have suddenly started throwing foodbank vouchers about. It’s that the need continues to grow and the local MP’s office is one of the places to which people turn for help when they don’t know where else to turn.

There is a wide spectrum of people who are running out of the money they need to buy food, toilet rolls and other family essentials these days. Quite a few different reasons too. However, a common factor in so many cases is the way the tax benefits and tax credits systems operate. People facing sanctions; people moving from one benefit to another with delays in the meantime; people falling between one part of the benefit or tax credit system and another. And please don’t think I am simply talking about people without jobs. A lot of people who turn for help to B30 and other foodbanks across the country are in work. It’s just that they are on poverty pay.

It is a similar picture across the rest of the country too …

Read the full article here.

Recent Posts

Richard Burden

Avatar photo

I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.