What an immoral country the UK has become, when government uses hunger as an instrument of policy.

Or put another way, the British government seeks to starve many of the people it is elected to serve.

It is a scandal that in one of the richest countries in the world (the fifth largest economy) that over 2 million people are reliant on food banks.

The major foodbank provider, the Trussell Trust, has seen the number of foodbanks it provides rise from 35 in 2010 to more than 1400 today. Altogether, there are more than 2,500 foodbanks in a country that is home to more than 300 billionaires.

The reluctance of government to feed people is shown in the way children are treated. Back in 2020, it took footballer Marcus Rashford shaming the government into providing free school meals for children.

Support has remained but the quality of provision has reduced.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Paul Donovan is appalled at the number of people reliant on food banksPaul Donovan is appalled at the number of people reliant on food banks

One of the reasons successive governments have got away with starving the nation is that not enough voices have been raised in opposition.

Food banks have become institutionalised.

Thousands of fantastic volunteers across the country run the food banks, without them things would be far worse. But food banks have been normalised, where are the voices - particularly in the political sphere - asking why we need food banks in such a rich country?

Where is the commitment and policy to make foodbanks unnecessary?

It could be done. VAT is a tax on the poor.

It is levied on food, which hits the lowest earners hardest, so why not cut this regressive tax for food? Impose price controls on a number of foodstuffs.

Why, at the time of a cost-of-living crisis, have supermarkets been allowed to make obscene profits, often on the backs of the poorest people?

Wages need to increase, with implementation of a Universal Basic Income a possible option.

Benefits need to be increased and made more accessible. One of the major causes of people going to foodbanks are benefit issues.

There needs to be a culture change in benefits, recognising that people need and are entitled to them.

The attitude to benefits under recent governments is more akin to the 19tb century, with punitive sanctions applied wherever possible. It is back to the world of the workhouse and deserving poor (who received charity).

Some of the changes mentioned would help level up society and reduce hunger in the population.

It is something that needs to happen. Starving people is a policy that no government should be able to get away with - it needs to end.

  • Paul Donovan is Labour councillor for Wanstead Village ward, Redbridge Council and a blogger (paulfdonovan.blogspot.com).