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Archbishop of Canterbury urged to lead inquiry into food bank hunger crisis

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been asked to lead an inquiry into the UK's food bank crisis as new figures show the number of people using the service has trebled. Speaking to Premier, Christian Labour MP and advisor to the Government on food poverty, Frank Field said Most Revd Justin Welby has a good track record with inquiries. Over 350,000 people received three days' emergency food from the Christian charity the Trussell Trust's foodbanks between April and September 2013 - three times the numbers helped in the same period last year. The Trust says UK hunger is getting worse and is calling for an inquiry into the causes of UK food poverty and the consequent surge in foodbank usage. David McAuley from the Trussell Trust tells Premier exactly what he's demanding from the government. This call for an investigation comes just weeks after Frank Field wrote to the Prime Minister outlining his concerns on the issue.

He told Premier's Des Busteed on the News Hour why he wants to see the Most Revd Justin Welby leading a report into the dramatic rise of food bank dependency across the UK.

Speaking to Premier on behalf of the Archbishop, a Lambeth Palace spokesman said:

"This is one of a number of approaches that the Archbishop has received on the issue of the Church's role in highlighting the situation of those experiencing hardship during these difficult economic times.

"The Archbishop has already identified debt and availability of sources of responsible credit via credit unions as a priority for the Church.

"This additional suggestion is one amongst several that the Archbishop will be reflecting on in the months ahead."

Meanwhile, unemployment figures out today have shown a decline of 18,000 in the three months to August to 2.49 million. Despite the Prime Minister praising the news, the Office for National Statistics said total pay rose at an annual rate of just 0.7% between June and August. Excluding bonuses, pay growth was marginally stronger, at just 0.8%, the weakest figure since comparable records began in 2001. Inflation was running at 2.7% in August. The figures have prompted the Labour leader to declare a cost of living crisis in the UK, with Ed Miliband attacking the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, saying prices are still rising faster than wages.

He said:

"This is the reality of Britain under this Prime Minister, foodbank use on the rise.

"Energy bills soaring. Even if you're in work, you're worse off and a Prime Minister in total denial about a cost of living crisis facing families".

However, David Cameron has insisted new figures show the number out of work is down, fewer people are claiming benefits and the economy is growing.

He said:

"What I want to see is help (for) all families with their living standards.

"We should recognise the fact we're getting more people into work, we're growing the economy and crucially we're cutting taxes".

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