Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin raised the heartbreaking case of a terminally ill local man who was forced to use a foodbank to feed his family in a speech highly critical of a Government budget that ‘fails to answer the social injustice facing our country’.
The MP also highlighted the devastating impact austerity is having on Batley and Spen including the downgrades to Dewsbury Hospital, Kirklees Council losing 50 per cent of its funding, schools struggling to make ends meet, and how cuts to social security are failing the most vulnerable.
She went on to detail the staggering 50 per cent increase in demand at Batley Food Bank on this time last year.
During her speech in the Budget debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Ms Brabin raised several constituent cases to demonstrate that austerity has a human cost.
She said: “If the House will allow me, I would just like to share a couple of examples from my own constituency. One constituent was forced to sell off his white goods and furniture to pay rent and bills. Another constituent, a former carer, Carol, who recently retired on grounds of ill health, has had to wait eight weeks and counting with not a penny of income.
“We are trying our best to support her, but an eviction scare is on the horizon, which is absolutely impacting on her health. She has sold off all her jewellery and clothing; she has nothing left to sell. We must be able to do better than that. These cases are unfair and unjust.
“I dread to think what people like Carol and the others would do if it were not for the food banks. I know that the people of Batley and Spen owe an enormous gratitude to the volunteers at Batley food bank, who keep helping and keep supporting in the face of rising demand.
“Demand is up 50 per cent on this time last year, and the volunteers are helping more than 100 adults and 40 children—let that land: 40 children. In the past two days alone, while we have been listening to and debating this Budget, the volunteers have helped 26 adults and 14 children.
“For some, going to the food bank is acute humiliation. One food bank volunteer told me of a middle-aged father of two who was out of work for the first time having been diagnosed with cancer.
“Waiting for his first welfare payment, he had nothing left for food for his family. He arrived at the food bank asking for help, but it was too much and he left saying, ‘I don’t want to be here. It’s embarrassing. I have worked all my life; I can’t do this’. The volunteer followed him, running into the street saying, ‘It’s society that should be ashamed, not you.’ It is heartbreaking and it is unacceptable.”
Elsewhere in her wide-ranging speech, Ms Brabin discussed the plight of nurseries throughout the country who are now faced with an uplift in the minimum wage but no increase in funding.
The MP says this is likely to lead to closures in the most deprived areas where parents can’t afford top-up fees.
Ms Brabin later said: “There is little cause for celebration in a Budget that, despite the Government’s claims, does not spell an end to austerity.
“The cuts are going to continue and for many there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
“Only a Labour Government will end austerity and deliver a budget that can rebuild Britain in the interest of everyone.”