BIRKENHEAD MP Frank Field has criticised the Government for rejecting more than £203 million of funding that could have been used to boost food aid provision in Britain.
New figures obtained by Mr Field – who is the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on hunger and food poverty – from the House of Commons Library show that Britain would have been entitled to at least £203m from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived between now and 2020, with more funding available if needed.
Mr Field has written to Prime Minister David Cameron asking him to decision to reject the funding.
He said: “People are going hungry yet the Government has turned down a small fortune in food aid funding.
“Despite recent improvements in the labour market, the cost of household essentials is continuing to rise, with household incomes for those at the bottom often failing to cover the costs of putting food on the table.
“An additional £200m plus of funding could have enabled food banks and other food aid providers to work wonders with the most vulnerable people in society.
“The Government must reconsider its bizarre decision to reject this funding.”
The Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived was established by the Council of the European Union in December 2013 to enable member states to either distribute food and/or other material assistance to the most deprived people.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We are not saying no to this money but we are saying no to Europe about how it should be spent.
“If we accepted the funding it would be taken off our structural fund budget which helps disadvantaged people into work.
“This is how similar funding has been used in the past – for employment skills and social inclusion. Just to be clear, we aren’t losing money.”