Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle
More needs to be done to stop people from spiralling into debt, according to shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle.
The Labour MP said she was shocked by the number of people in Medway relying on foodbank handouts when she visited the Towns this week.
Ms Eagle spoke to volunteers at Medway Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) in Gillingham, and went to the Medway Foodbank warehouse on Medway City Estate in Strood to talk about the cost of living and commuting.
Ms Eagle said: “I’m here to have a look at what cost-of-living issues are doing for people who are trying to live their lives and get on with their work.
“What I’ve discovered is that people are finding it a very tough struggle. Not only those who are without incomes and perhaps on benefits, but people who are working too.”
When asked what could be done to stop people in difficulties taking out high-interest loans, she said: “I think there’s something to be said for [a cap], given that some interest rate levels are purely exploitative.
“But I think you need to have a whole package of proposals and improvements that give people more choice about how to handle these circumstances.”
During a meeting at the CAB’s office in Balmoral Road, CAB chief executive Dan McDonald revealed the numbers of people asking for food bank vouchers from the charity was around 30 a week.
Ms Eagle said such a figure was “shocking in a civilised and rich society”. She said: “Obviously, you want to help people who are desperate, and in the current circumstances and in that sense I approve.
“It’s good short-term assistance you can give to people, but I think that food banks are not a long-term solution to a lack of income.”