Shadow Welsh secretary 'astounded' by poverty in Wales

Western Telegraph: POVERTY IN PEMBROKESHIRE: Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith talks to PATCH co-ordinator Tracy Olin. PICTURE: Pembrokeshire Photography (3401228) POVERTY IN PEMBROKESHIRE: Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith talks to PATCH co-ordinator Tracy Olin. PICTURE: Pembrokeshire Photography (3401228)

SHADOW welsh secretary Owen Smith visited Milford Haven’s PATCH food bank on Friday, as part of a Labour campaign to highlight how government cuts are affecting local communities.

Preseli Pembrokeshire Labour candidate Paul Miller and European elections hopeful Jayne Bryant joined Mr Smith. PATCH co-ordinator Tracy Olin explained how the number of people accessing the organisation, which also provides clothes and other household items, keeps on growing.

“In the beginning, we fed around 18 people a week,” said Tracy. “Now it’s more like 50. In the week before Christmas, 213 people came to us. We’ve also seen a steep rise in people needing clothes. Sometimes we get children with no shoes turning up.”

PATCH does not receive any grants, relying instead on volunteers and the goodwill of local people and businesses.

Mr Smith said he was ‘astounded’ by the degree of poverty in Wales.

“One of the ways you can count the cost of the Tory government is the 1400% rise in people accessing food banks over the last three years,” he told the Western Telegraph.

“It’s not just the unemployed that are struggling - the working poor are really suffering too. Living costs are constantly rising, but wages aren’t."

Jayne Bryant said visiting PATCH resonated for her as a European candidate.

“I’m interested because the government is refusing to access £22 million in funds from the European Union,” she said. “That money would have been particularly useful for Wales.”

The £2.5 billion ‘European Aid to the Most Deprived’ fund was created to subsidise food banks. The government turned down all but £2.9 million of its share, stating that ‘individual member states are best placed to take charge of such funding’. It is thought the money will be spent on helping people in to work, rather than on food aid.

Mr Miller said: “Yes, there’s a recovery, but many people are still in a very difficult situation,” he said. “When there’s money on offer that can help, you’re mad not to take it.”

Responding, Preseli Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb, said: “It is just not correct to suggest that the UK will be losing any additional money. The grant would come out of our pot of European funds anyway which we will receive in full. But we are opposed to Europe having a greater say over how the money is spent.”

“UK Governments, including under Labour, have used this European money for training and employment skills to help tackle long-term worklessness. The key to tackling poverty is to bring down unemployment.

“I am afraid Labour is trying to distort the picture and create an argument over foodbanks which is just not necessary.”

Comments (4)

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9:32pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Cymru bach says...

Very very sad situation that we have more and more people in the UK in the 21st Century who are reliant on foodbanks.

The Conservatives seem to be rejoicing in this fact with South Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West MP Simon Hart having his picture taken at the opening of yet another foodbank in Narberth recently.

As a correspondent in the Tenby Observer said , - this is nothing to be proud of.
Very very sad situation that we have more and more people in the UK in the 21st Century who are reliant on foodbanks. The Conservatives seem to be rejoicing in this fact with South Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West MP Simon Hart having his picture taken at the opening of yet another foodbank in Narberth recently. As a correspondent in the Tenby Observer said , - this is nothing to be proud of. Cymru bach

9:30am Fri 17 Jan 14

teifion says...

not making a political point, more of a sad comment on society - we've seen councils,education and the NHS get loads of tax money thrown at it - the first thing that happened was that we got loads of overpaid senior managers and extra tiers of over paid managers.
Now that these organisations are having to have severe cuts we suddenly find that pupils, patients and the general public will have to suffer the cuts, we also find that what we thought Councils were supposed to do not actually withinn their remit or statutory duties.
the over paid managers? still at the trough, mucking things up!
not making a political point, more of a sad comment on society - we've seen councils,education and the NHS get loads of tax money thrown at it - the first thing that happened was that we got loads of overpaid senior managers and extra tiers of over paid managers. Now that these organisations are having to have severe cuts we suddenly find that pupils, patients and the general public will have to suffer the cuts, we also find that what we thought Councils were supposed to do not actually withinn their remit or statutory duties. the over paid managers? still at the trough, mucking things up! teifion

11:17am Fri 17 Jan 14

malcolm calver says...

i am sure many people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, but surely we have to stop saying "people are in poverty" Many have made lifestyle decisions that have left them short of money but I would suggest nobody is in poverty.
The sad thing is that Pembrokeshire County Coucil is allocating finance for luncheon clubs, whicth comes out of the community charge paid for by the people of Pembrokeshire. Many of those attending the clubs do not need a subsidised meal and surely this is one area that county councillors need to look at urgently. If there is a need for anyone to recceive a subsidised meal in Pembrokeshire it should be means tested
i am sure many people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, but surely we have to stop saying "people are in poverty" Many have made lifestyle decisions that have left them short of money but I would suggest nobody is in poverty. The sad thing is that Pembrokeshire County Coucil is allocating finance for luncheon clubs, whicth comes out of the community charge paid for by the people of Pembrokeshire. Many of those attending the clubs do not need a subsidised meal and surely this is one area that county councillors need to look at urgently. If there is a need for anyone to recceive a subsidised meal in Pembrokeshire it should be means tested malcolm calver

1:21pm Fri 17 Jan 14

teifion says...

malcolm calver wrote:
i am sure many people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, but surely we have to stop saying "people are in poverty" Many have made lifestyle decisions that have left them short of money but I would suggest nobody is in poverty.
The sad thing is that Pembrokeshire County Coucil is allocating finance for luncheon clubs, whicth comes out of the community charge paid for by the people of Pembrokeshire. Many of those attending the clubs do not need a subsidised meal and surely this is one area that county councillors need to look at urgently. If there is a need for anyone to recceive a subsidised meal in Pembrokeshire it should be means tested
Lets not forget that interesting fact that came out when Pembs CC were taken to the High Court recently (and lost - another HUGE expense) - Councillors get a higher allowance for ONE meal than they budget for all the food and drink for one senior citizen for the whole day in a coincil paid home and the councillors are surprised we detest their smug self satisfied little faces ?
[quote][p][bold]malcolm calver[/bold] wrote: i am sure many people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, but surely we have to stop saying "people are in poverty" Many have made lifestyle decisions that have left them short of money but I would suggest nobody is in poverty. The sad thing is that Pembrokeshire County Coucil is allocating finance for luncheon clubs, whicth comes out of the community charge paid for by the people of Pembrokeshire. Many of those attending the clubs do not need a subsidised meal and surely this is one area that county councillors need to look at urgently. If there is a need for anyone to recceive a subsidised meal in Pembrokeshire it should be means tested[/p][/quote]Lets not forget that interesting fact that came out when Pembs CC were taken to the High Court recently (and lost - another HUGE expense) - Councillors get a higher allowance for ONE meal than they budget for all the food and drink for one senior citizen for the whole day in a coincil paid home and the councillors are surprised we detest their smug self satisfied little faces ? teifion

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