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Tory MP defends Lee Anderson and says ‘poor basic skills’ trapping people in cycle of poverty

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Fellow Conservative MP Ben Bradley has come to the defence of Lee Anderson after he was embroiled in controversy for his comments on foodbanks in the House of Commons. The Ashfield MP claimed poverty-hit Brits who use food banks “cannot budget” and “cannot cook properly”.

Mr Anderson’s comments have come under intense scrutiny, including from high-profile figures such as presenter Piers Morgan, who tweeted the video of the Commons speech with the phrase ‘WTF?’. But a fellow Conservative MP and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Ben Bradley, has sought to defend him.

Mr Anderson had claimed a meal can be made “for around 30p a day” and praised the work of the foodbanks in his north Nottinghamshire constituency. However Labour MP Alex Cunningham intervened to say: “Should it be necessary to have food banks in 21st Century Britain?”

Read more: Concerns from improvement board at Nottingham City Council

Mr Anderson replied: “I think you will see there is not this massive use for food banks in this country. We have got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They cannot cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

Speaking of the comments Mr Bradley, who represents Mansfield, says there is a problem with ‘basic education’ and numeracy skills in areas such as his. He said educational outcomes have been very “poor” and “so few” people leave school with qualifications.

The impact of this, he says, has a “profound impact” on people being able to learn and utilise basic skills. He told Nottinghamshire Live: “I think there is always a risk inevitably in politics where people generalise.




“And people take Lee’s comments about a small group of people, and there is a cycle, he is absolutely right, about a small number, or a large number really, but a minority, of families and generations of poor education, poor basic skills around cooking and budgeting, if you don’t know as a parent how to do things and you find that cycle of poverty and it is important to break into that at some stage with the kind of education Lee is talking about.

“You are not going to be able to level up or break into that cycle of poverty if you don’t be honest about that and if you don’t tackle that. There is a risk of generalisation and every time I make a comment in a similar vein someone from the Labour Party says you’re talking about all people on benefits or you’re talking about all people who are poor of disadvantaged.

“That’s not to say there isn’t a problem with inflation, there isn’t a problem with the cost of living, that’s not what Lee has said either. Clearly there is a squeeze and clearly people are feeling it and clearly there is more Government can do. Government have said they can do more.

“But there is also an educational issue about how to look after yourself, how to look after your family, how to budget, how to make your money go further, that is not new or about inflation, it is not about current circumstances, it is a long-term issue that is the reason some families in places like Mansfield and Ashfield go round cycles and generation after generation of worklessness and of poverty.”

When asked if Mr Anderson’s comments were “out of touch” Mr Bradley said he did not believe so. Broxtowe’s Darren Henry, who also represents for the Conservatives, declined to comment on Mr Anderson’s thoughts however.

Food campaigners have sought to condemn his statements in the Commons. One charity said he had been “ill-informed” and that in the past week food poverty had risen by 57%.

His comments came as the cost of living, from basic food items to fuel and energy, continues to rise. The living costs are not only causing issues for those on low incomes, it is also a cause for serious concern for others too, including those experiencing domestic violence.

Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, expressed her anger at Mr Anderson’s comments. She told Nottinghamshire Live: “Lee Anderson’s comments are an insult to those who are forced to rely on food banks because of his government’s policies. Food bank use has grown every year since the Tories been in power.

“It’s got nothing to do without a lack of cooking or budgeting skills and everything to do with ten years of benefit cuts, poverty wages and spiralling costs.”

Written by: thehitnetwork

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