BIRKENHEAD MP Frank Field has helped set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group to discover the root causes behind the recent surge in demand for food banks.

The group, set up with with Thanet Conservative MP Laura Sandys, will look at ways of tackling issues such as delays to benefit payments, benefit sanctions, low wages and high food prices in order to prevent food banks becoming an institutional part of the welfare state.

In an interview on ITV's Daybreak, Mr Field said: "There is not just one cause. Cleary something very serious is happening at the bottom of our society.

"Laura Sandys and I are setting up the All-Party Group at the House of Commons on Hunger and Food Poverty.

"She has pointed out that huge numbers of landlords who are provided with housing benefit do not even provide kitchens – they give you a microwave."

The Trussell Trust - which partners with churches and communities to open new foodbanks nationwide - has handed out more than a third of a million food handouts to people across the country so far this year. The figure is more than the whole of 2012.

More than 5,900 people have used Birkenhead food bank in the last six months.

Mr Field wrote to the Prime Minister in September, urging him to conduct a public inquiry into hunger and food poverty.

He will shortly be meeting with the Prime Minister’s office to discuss the contents of the letter.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs began an investigation into this issue in February, but no results have yet been announced.

Mr Field has tabled parliamentary questions to find out more on the investigation's progress and whether it will publish its results.