The number and usage of foodbanks has been on the rise in Doncaster and across the country over the last few years. I want to see a future where no one needs to use a food bank. I fully support the Trussell Trust in their efforts to create a #HungerFreeFuture.
In the first wave of lockdown, I ensured Doncaster Council worked alongside our voluntary sector, councillors and local volunteers to ensure all those shielding, our most vulnerable and other residents had support. I made over £160,000 available, along with funding to support both new and existing food banks. I also ensured our children were provided for when the Government stopped funding children on free school meals over the holidays, but thankfully a great campaign led by Marcus Rashford encouraged the Government to later change their mind. I want to see the end of the need for food banks, although they have been a lifeline for many people, especially in these trying times. Things like ill health or a job loss can happen to any of us – but if these hit someone when they don’t have enough support in place, it can make it more difficult to afford the essentials.
Prior to Covid, in Doncaster we had made significant economic progress, with higher employment and average weekly wage rates higher than the Yorkshire average, the number of businesses grew from 6,705 to 9,050 (35%) and our educational achievements were improving.
I have an ambitious strategy for recovery, as I believe that we need not only to get back to our previous position, but to improve upon it, to eradicate the need for food banks through high employment and increased wages.
It is about refocusing efforts on delivering good growth and reducing inequalities, thus we need to embed place-based approaches to support our most deprived communities.
That is why I have just approved a ten-year Borough Strategy which will form the basis to our short-, medium-, and long-term plans.
I will continue to work to end the need for foodbanks, but whilst there is a need, I will seek to assist and support our foodbanks wherever possible.
Yesterday we heard from US President Biden, stating that Trickle-down economics has never worked. It’s time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out.
I want to see a Covid recovery in Doncaster that leaves no one behind – and enables everyone to share in our success and to be a part of it.
As our economy re-opens following successive coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions, the significant risk of further redundancies is on the horizon, I call on government to go big with both its ambition and resource allocation to Level-Up Doncaster and the north, this would provide jobs and opportunities for our people and help to eradicate the need for foodbanks.