MALVERN’S MP Harriett Baldwin has been accused of being ‘out of touch when it comes to the town’s food bank’ in a blistering attack by Labour’s Parliamentary candidate.
Speaking at a debate at the town’s Lansdowne Methodist Church, Daniel Walton slammed the West Worcestershire MP and said Mrs Baldwin did not recognise the plight of local residents.
Mr Walton hit out during the inaugural Lansdowne debate which was chaired by Rev David Haslam.
The debate was also attended by the Trussell Trust, who manage the Malvern Hills Food Bank, and the charity Action for Children.
“She is out of touch when it comes to what is happening across West Worcestershire,” he said.
“Here we are in the seventh richest nation and whilst she and the Conservatives focus on the employment figure the only thing really increasing is the queue at the food bank door.
“Whilst she says the economy is recovering, visitors to the food bank in Malvern are increasing by 160 per cent per year and we now have 1,400 people visiting it annually.
“It’s no good chasing photo opportunities – she’s our elected MP and we need to see action for the majority, not just the few.”
Mr Walton also attacked the policy of putting people into work regardless of the hours or the contract they receive.
“We support getting people into work, but not at any price. Not at a price where they can’t afford to eat,” he added.
“Unfortunately, due to the stigma attached to seeking food aid and the ‘scroungers and skivers’ rhetoric of this Government, many people, and more so in small rural villages, will be suffering in silence, too worried to ask for help for fear of being stigmatised.
“West Worcestershire is thought to be a safe seat. I wonder if that’s why there is such a lacklustre approach to dealing with this issue.”
Mrs Baldwin hit back and said she was sorry the Labour Party had chosen to politicise an important local issue.
“I am aware from my constituency advice surgeries that there are numerous reasons why local people suffer sudden shocks to their income,” she said.
“I thank everyone for their generosity in setting up a food bank where one did not exist before.
“However, I am not surprised to see the Labour candidate is unable to understand that in order to create a secure future for everyone in West Worcestershire, it is welcome news that 7,000 more people are in work locally.
“Income taxes have been cut for the low paid, council tax has been frozen and petrol taxes have been reduced for working people.
“Prosperity requires a long term economic plan, not more taxes, more spending and more borrowing as the Labour Party proposes.”