Hungry children are 'scouring bins' and stealing food from school dinner halls, claims South Shields MP
Hungry children are being forced to rummage through bins and steal food from school dinner halls, according to a South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
The MP has demanded answers from the Government on what steps Ministers will take to tackle the problem of child poverty in the UK.
Speaking in the House of Commons, she said there 1.7million children in destitution, up half a million from 2010.
She said: "Reports of children arriving in schools, scouring bins and stealing food from dinner halls are commonplace. Child poverty has risen by over half a million since 2010.
"Yesterday, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty was joined by Human Rights Watch in making it very clear that it is this Government's relentless austerity measures and cruel welfare reforms that are to blame for growing levels of hunger and poverty.
"Does the minister agree with these internationally respected organisations?"
Mrs Lewell-Buck was underlining comments from Shadow economic secretary to the Treasury Jonathan Reynolds, who described the situation as a "humanitarian disaster".
He said child poverty had reached an "unconscionable level" and asked what Ministers believed had caused the situation.
He added: "Let me ask the Government, if it doesn't accept that Conservative policies are creating this crisis, what do ministers believe is responsible for this humanitarian disaster?
Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen responded: "What is important is that this Government continues to focus on creating jobs and allowing families to experience the value of that job and receive more money in their household take-home pay, and that is what we will continue to focus on."
Earlier, Mr Glen said the Government takes child poverty "extremely seriously" and is committed to ensuring that "all children have the best life chances".
He added: "The Government believes that moving into work and progressing in work is the best and the most sustainable route out of child poverty and we have reformed the welfare system to ensure that work pays and working families can keep more of what they earn."
Mrs Lewell-Buck responded: "I despair at that predictable answer."
Replying to her points, Mr Glenn said he did not agree with her claims the Government's austerity measures were to blame for growing levels of hunger and poverty.
He added: "But I do recognise the diverse needs across this country and, when I served with the honourable lady on the APPG for hunger and food poverty in South Shields, I visited South Shields and I did acknowledge that there are significant challenges.
"I'm pleased to see that the employment rate in her constituency is up 20% since 2010."