Food banks are independent charitable organisations and the Department for Work and Pensions does not have any role in their operation. There is no consistent and accurate measure of food bank usage at a constituency or, indeed, national level.
Since 2010, there has been an explosion in the number of people unable to put food on the table. Conservatives such as the hon. Member for Hertford and Stortford (Julie Marson) admit that taking £20 a week off universal credit current payments, to use the Minister’s vernacular, will result in another dramatic rise in food bank demand. The Trussell Trust predicts that 900,000 more people will need support. Will the Minister or the Secretary of State meet the all-party group on ending the need for food banks and organisations working on this issue to ensure that there is capacity to meet Government-driven demand?
Of course, I am always happy to meet the hon. Gentleman, as I have always sought to do. I remind the House that there have been significant improvements in the public health situation, the vaccine roll-out is a huge success, our economy is opening up, restrictions are lifted, and we have a record number of vacancies in our labour market. Universal credit provides a safety net but it is not designed to trap people on welfare. Work is the best route out of poverty and to prosperity, but I am very happy to meet him to discuss this further.