A SOMERSET MP has blamed the Conservative Party for the UK's food poverty crisis.

Sarah Dyke, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome, has condemned the Conservatives for the substantial rise in food bank usage since they came to power in 2010.

In 2010/11, the Trussell Trust, which supports the largest network of food banks in the UK, distributed 61,000 food parcels.

The Somerton and Frome MP said that between April 2022 and March 2023, the charity distributed almost three million parcels, an increase of over 4,000%.

There are now more food banks in the UK than branches of McDonald's.

Sarah Dyke, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome, said: “It’s utterly shocking that in 2023, record numbers of people are turning to food banks in order to feed themselves and their families.

"The Conservatives should hang their heads in shame at having seen an almost 50 fold increase in food parcel distribution on their watch.  

“The Tories have designed the welfare system based on their backward-looking view of work and families and are making food insecurity so much worse.

"In 2021/22, 4.7 million people, or 7% of the UK population, were in food insecure households.

"We urgently need a change of government to put this right.”

In response, Faye Purbrick, the Conservative Candidate for the new Glastonbury and Somerton constituency, said: “Since 2010, the Conservative Government has delivered reforms that have led to 1.7m fewer people in absolute poverty, including 400,000 fewer children and 200,000 pensioners.

"We’ve delivered on our promise to halve inflation, putting money back in people’s pockets, while also providing millions of households with unprecedented financial support to ease cost of living pressures.

“We know that times are tough for many families right now and we will always protect the most vulnerable whilst ensuring fairness for the taxpayer.

"That is why in the Autumn Statement, we committed £104bn for cost-of-living support from 2022-2025.

"This includes uprating benefits by 6.7% and boosting the state pension by 8.5%, through the Triple Lock to ensure pensioners are supported after a lifetime of work. 

“But we all know, the best way to help families is by getting more people into good jobs.

"We are helping thousands of people to do this through our Back to Work Plan.

"And we’re supporting our children, the workforce of the future, to achieve their ambitions and aspirations with 89% of our schools rated good or outstanding and consistently improving levels of reading and maths.”