LETTER: Financial gap is growing

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Gerry Stonestreet is right to feel affronted at the existence of Foodbanks and he should be assured that he is not seen as implying any criticism of the role of Foodbank in Eastbourne (Herald, December 5).

However, some of his facts are in question. For example, the existence of foodbanks is not as a direct result of the present Government.

If that were so, why was it that the previous Labour administration introduced them? In order to reach answers to the problem, we need to look deeper.

We are not, for example, the only western country to have foodbanks in our midst. They are to be found in Canada and (socialist) France among others.

We need also to stop simplifying the financial gap. The picture painted is of foodbank beneficiaries at one end and millionaires at the other. Evidence suggests a gap as yawning between the disadvantaged and those with incomes much closer to home. The unpalatable scenes on Black Friday provided one clue. It was hardly millionaires bursting into Oxford Street stores in droves to fight over luxury items, for which they clearly had the money. Foodbank beneficiaries could not have joined that particular throng.

On another level it has been shown that prices in our theatres are lower than many elsewhere. But at £30 to £40 a seat for some of the top-class musicals, they are well out of reach for those who need volunteered food.

Yet the Congress is frequently packed out for the top shows. Are all the patrons who attend millionaires?

The gap could be closed long before any move is made towards those eligible for the projected mansion tax, whether or not that be arguably an appropriate course of action.

We could look, for example, at what took place in the House of Commons a week or so ago. MPs voted almost unanimously to make legally binding the automatic annual expenditure of 0.7 per cent to overseas aid, currently amounting to £11 billion.

Is there not cause for the use of a popular word of the moment: Disconnect? And could that amount not be placed forthwith at the disposal of all those who need the services of the foodbanks?

When the economy improves, or as Walter Greenwood expressed it in Love on the Dole, ‘trade turns the corner’, we would then be in a position to provide for countries other than our own, not before.

Edward Thomas

Collington Close