Food Banking

In recent years the UK has seen a shocking rise in the use of food banks by people who simply don't have the means to feed themselves. Although food bank use continues to rise at a time when welfare budgets are being slashed, the government maintains that there is no link. We spoke to David Chumbly, MP for Waitrose, in the hope that he might shed some light on the government's position.

UBO:

Mr Chumbly, many thanks for coming in today. A leading food bank has just announced a 51% rise in the number of clients. That's quite startling news, isn't it?

Chumbly:

It certainly is, but I think it's a clear demonstration that government policy appears to be working. In the face of considerable criticism we have maintained that our austerity measures are the way forward, and I'm pleased that this announcement has now borne that out.

UBO:

You think that food bank growth is a good thing?

Chumbly:

All growth is good, as long as it isn't allowed to get out of hand. We want to avoid the boom and bust economies of old. But in this case we have an industry that didn't really exist when we came to power, and yet under this government it has grown steadily, in a sustainable way, to the point where it is now a significant sector of the UK economy. Well done to everyone concerned, that's what I say.

UBO:

Mr Chumbly, I don't think you fully understand what a food bank actually is. If you had ever had call to use one -

Chumbly:

Oh, I have.

UBO:

You have?

Chumbly:

Certainly I have. I deposited a tin of peas in my local branch several years ago, and in that time I have seen my investment grow to three tins of carrots and a bag of sprouts.

UBO:

That's outrageous!

Chumbly:

I know, it is rather impressive, isn't it? Of course, it's taxable and I have had to declare it on the Register of Members' Interests. Nevertheless, it's not to be sneered at and that is why there has been such interest from overseas. Britain is now the number one destination for foreign investors who are looking for a good return on a spare packet of soup or a box a cereal. However, I do understand your concerns.

UBO:

You do? Well, I'm glad to hear it.

Chumbly:

Yes of course. The issue of food bankers' bonuses is a contentious one. Certainly, on one hand you have to recognise that huge pay-outs are damaging the reputation of the industry, but then if the sector is to retain talent it has to be suitably rewarded. There is a fine line between regulating and stifling the market. Take the PPI scandal, for instance.

UBO:

PPI?

Chumbly:

Parsnip Protection Insurance. The previous government got that badly wrong and now food banks have had to set aside whole greenhouses just to meet the demands for compensation. You see?

UBO:

Yes... No, not really. Mr Chumbly, are you sure we're talking about the same thing? We're discussing the shameful rise in the need for food banks. One of your colleagues recently stated that this increase was due to extra food banks being opened. But surely that is nonsense? Your government can't honestly believe that more food banks leads to greater demand?

Chumbly:

Well, this thinking is consistent with government policy.

UBO:

But isn't that getting the laws of supply and demand the wrong way round? It's like saying that opening more factories increases the demand for a product. Or that forcing more people onto the labour market increases the number of jobs.

Chumbly:

Yes, well, as I say - this thinking is entirely consistent with government policy.

UBO:

Mr Chumbly, thank you for your time.

Chumbly:

A pleasure. The invoice is in the post.

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