10% of Central Bedfordshire people living in poverty as councillors call for more support for foodbanks

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The figure is expected to rise as the cost of living crisis continues to bite

Ten per cent of Central Bedfordshire residents are living in poverty according to local authority data, a councillor claimed.

“That’s projected to rise by an extra 32 per cent of households which may be at risk of experiencing deprivation this winter,” according to Independent Biggleswade South councillor Hayley Whitaker.

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She was presenting a motion to a Central Bedfordshire Council extraordinary meeting calling for additional support for foodbanks.

A member the public looks through food items inside a foodbank (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)A member the public looks through food items inside a foodbank (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
A member the public looks through food items inside a foodbank (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

“I’m sure I’m not alone in being contacted by residents during the cold snap who were too scared to put their heating on for fear of running up a huge bill,” she explained. “And many that did, as a result, didn’t eat a hot meal that day.

“I’ve visited residents in the last week who both work, and they’re struggling. Their house is freezing cold. This cost-of-living crisis is affecting everyone.

“Nobody wants to use foodbanks. Right now they’re needed. We should make it one of our priorities that residents have access to food.

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“Foodbanks have seen a doubling in demand, but we’re not doubling the funding we’re making available to them.

“As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, donations are dropping just as that demand is rising. If the projections of this council run true, our foodbanks are going to run out of money sooner rather than later.

“My motion asks this council to make matched funding available to our foodbanks, if required. This will enable them to support our most vulnerable residents through this winter, should the forecast numbers become a reality.”

CBC increased funding via the household support fund from £40,000 per foodbank to £45,780 for foodbanks, including Preen and the NEED project, as well as £24,801 for the foodbank in Dunstable for the next six months, according to figures in her motion.

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Labour Parkside councillor Antonia Ryan said: “CBC needs to start thinking about a long-term strategy of how we tackle hunger.

“As we’re hearing harrowing stories from our families, by continuing to ignore the problem doesn’t mean it’ll go away.”

Conservative Dunstable Central councillor Carole Hegley said: “Many of us have given their councillor grants towards foodbanks. I co-ordinate some of our effort in Dunstable and all our councillors are supportive, as they are in Leighton-Linslade.

“There are several different elements to what’s going on currently under this cost-of-living crisis work, whether it’s the fairness plan, the crisis fund from the children’s centres, and the charity infrastructure fund or grant.

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“When I worked with the Dunstable foodbank recently, I was told it’s not food they need, but more money for the infrastructure they require, where they’ve got vehicles, staff and rent.

“This hopefully will be of great assistance to them. Some of them are well positioned for food because of the recent harvest festivals and donations from the main supermarkets.

“This won’t be fixed in short-term. It’s something which we’ll need to monitor, and going through scrutiny is where we can have a conversation and follow it.”

Councillor Whitaker’s motion is expected to be referred to the executive in January.