A leading church and charity has hit out at MP Therese Coffey after she suggested that people should work longer hours to pay for food.

Captain Paul Williams, The Salvation Army leader in Felixstowe, was reacting to comments made by the Environment Minister and Suffolk Coastal MP in Parliament.

He was speaking after Dr Coffey suggested people struggling to afford their food bills should consider working more hours in response to Labour MP Rachael Maskell who had raised concerns about food banks in York running out of stock.

“It is not fair to suggest people can just work more hours in order to pay for food,” Capt Williams said.


East Anglian Daily Times: Captain Paul Williams is The Salvation Army leader in Felixstowe, The Salvation ArmyCaptain Paul Williams is The Salvation Army leader in Felixstowe, The Salvation Army (Image: The Salvation Army)

“Working fewer hours is not a lifestyle choice for the vulnerable people we see every day.

“The vast majority of people supported by The Salvation Army can’t take on more hours because of health reasons, age, or caring responsibilities.

“They rely on our food and school uniform banks to make ends meet.”

Dr Coffey noted that inflation was “really tough at the moment” and outlined support schemes in place.

But the MP added that one of the best ways for people to boost their incomes was by either getting into work if they were unemployed, “potentially to work some more hours” or “get upskilled” in a bid to secure a higher wage.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Environment Secretary MP Dr Therese Coffey, PAThe Environment Secretary MP Dr Therese Coffey, PA (Image: PA)

But Capt Williams said: “We see so many people in our Employment Support services who are desperate to work but are held back due to lack of training or have been out of the workforce for a long time due to ill health.

“We urge the Government to focus on the real reasons people are falling below the poverty line, which include the rising costs of food and other necessities.

“This is leaving people on Universal Credit unable to afford the basics. People want to work and want to provide for their families, let’s focus on making it easier for them.”