I WOULD like to correct the impression some readers may have gained from last week’s Journal (MP leading the way to end scandal of hunger in the UK, December 11) that Salisbury MP John Glen is a some kind of crusader against poverty.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr Glen is a member of a government that has set out to hurt the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society. As The Centre for Welfare points out of the massive cuts to date: “Over 50 per cent fall on just two areas, benefits and local government, despite the fact that together they make up only 26.8 per cent of central government expenditure.”

This at a time when, according to Kevin Farnsworth, senior lecturer in social policy at the University of York, British business receives, at a conservative estimate, £85 billion a year from the public purse in the form of preferential credit, government services, subsidies, insurance schemes and grants. And untold billions are siphoned out of the tax system into offshore havens and the City of London. Mr Glen is certainly right that the “food bank debate had become too politicised.” (View from the Commons, December 11). But it is the Tories that have politicised food poverty.

No wonder that the report notes that even if families have “just enough money to prevent hunger” they are vulnerable to sudden crises. Some families do find it difficult to manage their tiny budgets, but the report also points out that “many families on very low incomes manage their finances in a way that the members of this inquiry would find hard to match.”

It also stresses that even if families have these budgeting skills they can still be overwhelmed by a sudden monetary crisis.

Mr Glen desperately attempts to minimise this wretched government’s culpability by claiming that even if all benefit claims were handled perfectly this would not “address the needs of more than half of food bank clients who are there for other reasons.”

But he unaccountably fails to point that benefit-related problems was “the single biggest reason given for food bank referrals by almost every food bank”. Of course this is all part of his government’s plan to blame everyone but itself for poverty in the UK, including those in poverty and suffering hunger. Make no mistake, Mr Glen is a fully paid up member of his government’s Campaign for Real Poverty and we should not let him pretend otherwise.

Dick Bellringer


I WAS shocked, but not surprised, to read John Glen (View from the Commons December 11) repeat yet again his mantra that the food bank debate had become too politicised.

John is a member of a government that has sought to politicise poverty and welfare via a tirade of divisive misinformation, smear and innuendo all aimed at demonising anyone in receipt of benefits. Under cover of this PR campaign the government has implemented an indiscriminate programme of cuts that have disproportionately affected the poor and vulnerable.

The food bank charities and churches do a tremendous job coping with the growing level of food poverty but let’s not confuse that with the motivation of those politicians who actually think that food banks are a good thing and would prefer it if government could be absolved from responsibility for the welfare of its citizens.

The issue of food banks and food poverty is intensely political and for some it is a way of diverting attention away from their plans for reducing democratically accountable government to an irreducible minimum.

According to George Osborne we have only suffered 40 per cent of his cuts; a further 60 per cent are planned. If he gets anywhere near achieving this target it will not just be the poor and vulnerable that will be relying on food banks. Many who currently have secure, reasonably paid jobs will find themselves working on zero hour or part time contracts or doing their current job but employed by Serco or G4S for reduced salary and poorer conditions of service.

The government’s austerity plans for the next parliament are unprecedented. It is time for John Glen to come clean and tell us what will be cut and what the consequences will be, apart of course from a massive further increase in the need for food banks. Finally, what about balancing the books and getting the deficit down? It is worth pointing out that, while our deficit needs reducing, there is no body of evidence suggesting that we need to reduce it as far or as fast as George Osborne plans, unless of course his plans are ideologically motivated rather than financially necessary.

Colin Lawson


YOUR recent article about our local MP John Glen being allegedly at the front of combating hunger in the UK (Journal, December 11) has left me totally shocked.

How on earth someone who is part of a government that has made scapegoating the poor and vulnerable in our society, and denying people decent rights at work, part of its central strategy can be said to be at the forefront of combating hunger is a affront to common sense and decency.

The fact is that Mr Glen has supported his party attacking welfare support that has left people in severe financial difficulty and has led to people being put under severe pressure, arguably leading to a number of tragic outcomes.

The fact is that Mr Glen has supported his party attacking workers’ rights and job security, making it harder for people to retain regular, reliable, well paid employment and causing a proliferation of zero hours contracts being used by exploitative employers.

Mr Glen’s party is responsible for an austerity agenda that has sucked the life out of our economy and that has hit our living standards, particularly those who are less well off.

We are crying out for a Living Wage and yet the person who is alleged to be fighting to ‘combat hunger’ has not backed this important measure which would ensure that people receive a decent hourly rate of pay.

Mr Glen says that he wants to take hunger out of politics.

Yes, I bet he does, because creating poverty and hunger is what his party’s politics is all about. His hypocrisy appears to have few boundaries.

Food banks have sadly become a necessity for many and the people who organise and run them thankfully do so to help people in desperate need.

But they are a sign of our society’s failure and they are not the long-term answer to combating poverty.

This can only be done through people being able to have well paid and secure employment and having a decent welfare system that supports those, like people with disabilities and the elderly, who need the safety net.

Mark Wareham