THE NUMBER of starving people in Thurrock could rise unless the Government makes changes to its emergency food aid policy.

This is the view of the Essex Euro MP Richard Howitt, who spoke about the issue on a visit to a Thurrock Foodbank in Purfleet recently.

The Essex Euro MP is leading the challenge in the European Parliament for the UK to take part in the £2billion EU fund to tackle food deprivation, which will directly help foodbanks and charities in the UK and across Europe.

He spoke with users of the foodbank to hear about the challenges they have faced, with increasing concern that cuts to disability benefits have directly affected the amount of people using foodbanks.

Mr Howitt said: “I have seen a 230 per cent rise in numbers needing help in my constituency during the last year in relation to foodbanks.

“It is fantastic to see how the Thurrock volunteers have distributed almost 20 tonnes of food since the Foodbank opened, all donated by local people or organisations, but sobering to understand that almost 50 per cent of clients need the help because they are suffering from changes or delays to their benefits.

“It is obscene and if the Government doesn’t acknowledge the signs then who is to say the numbers won’t rise?”

Laurence Martin, team leader at Thurrock Foodbank, said: “It is a problem, but there is a need for food. Great Britain is a first world country and should not have people who are unable to get food.

“We will continue to provide a service, but we wish it didn’t have to be as widely used.”