Tory MP: Anyone on £30k using food banks isn't budgeting properly

Lee Anderson MP (Con:Ashfield) in Westminster, being interviewed before a vote of confidence in Boris Johnson, June 7th 2022
Tory MP Lee Anderson has previously been branded "30p Lee" for claiming Brits can make nutritious meals on 30p. (PA)

A Conservative MP has said people that earn more than £30,000 aren't budgeting properly if they are relying on food banks.

Food bank usage in the UK has soared since 2010, with need becoming particularly acute amid COVID and the cost-of-living crisis.

Leading food bank charity the Trussell Trust has reported that in 2021/22 it handed out more than 2.1m food parcels to struggling Brits.

However, Lee Anderson, Tory MP for Ashfield, said people earning more than £30,000 "must have a budgeting problem" if they rely on food banks to get by.

"The point here is that ANYONE (not just nurses) earning *MORE* than £30,000, and are using food banks must have a budgeting problem," said Anderson on social media.

"I have constituents i.e armed forces, bin men, bar staff, care workers, bus drivers, pensioners etc who can all live on less. Am I missing something?"

He also claimed a member of his staff, who earned less than £30,000 and did not use a food bank, demonstrated his point "really well".

"She is single & earns less than 30k, rents a room for £775pcm in Central London, has student debt, £120 a month on travelling to work saves money every month, goes on foreign holidays & does not need to use a food bank," he said.

Yahoo News UK has decided not to share the details of the member of staff - however, she attended a £20,000 per year private school and is the daughter of a former army chief who also holds a CBE.

Anderson's initial remarks were in response to Thursday's Daily Mirror front page which criticised former levelling-up minister Simon Clarke who said nurses using food banks needed to budget better.

The current levelling up secretary Michael Gove said on Thursday he would "never put it that way" when asked about Clarke's remarks on Sky News.

“I think we appreciate that nurses, everyone who’s working on the front line in the national health service, is doing an amazing job, and my thanks and gratitude to nurses today is something I want to express very deeply and personally," he said.

Read more: The UK's economic crisis explained in seven charts

It comes after a new survey by NHS Charities Together and the Observer found half of NHS trusts in the UK are now providing or planning food banks for staff.

Anderson's comments are not the first time he has waded into the issue of food banks.

He was heavily criticised in May after he claimed food bank need in the UK was not "massive" and healthy meals could be cooked for 30p, earning him the nickname "30p Lee".

“I think you’ll see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country," Anderson told MPs. "You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

Responding to the remarks at the time, the UK's leading food bank network the Trussell Trust rebuffed Anderson's claims.

"Our research shows that people at food banks had on average just £57 a week to live on after housing costs - and no amount of budget management or cooking classes will make this stretch to cover council tax, energy bills, food and all the other essentials we all need to get by," it said.

Watch: UK woman who received backlash from family and community after viral cost-of-living plea donates more than £2,000 to foodbanks