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We tried to see how far 30p goes on a Darlington budget shop

THIS year has seen a whole host of household price increases, from the energy price cap rise to surging inflation and food prices, costing your family hundreds or even thousands of pounds extra per year.

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Following a Tory MP’s claims that there is no need for foodbanks in the UK and that people can afford to eat for 30p per day, The Northern Echo wanted to see if this could work in reality.

Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, told MPs in the House of Commons that rising hunger is not down to the cost-of-living crisis, it is instead due to a lack of domestic skills.

Read more: I worked a shift at a Darlington foodbank to see what it’s like for those struggling

Speaking in a debate in parliament on Wednesday afternoon (May 11), Anderson said: “There’s not this massive use for foodbanks in this country.

“You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook properly. They can’t cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

He also claimed Brits can make a meal for “around 30p.”

Lee Anderson MP claimed in the House of Commons that there was no real need for foodbanks in the UK and the reason they are so prevalent is that the public cannot cook or budget. Picture: LEE ANDERSON.ORG

We headed out to one of Britain’s most well-known discount supermarkets to get an idea of ​​what kitchen staples could be purchased on such a tight budget.

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Unsurprisingly, even at prices considerably lower than most retailers, it was hard to see how a meal could be made for under 30p.

We visited Heron Foods in Cockerton, Darlington, to check how much essentials including milk, bread, tinned goods and tea bags cost.

The Northern Echo: Heron Foods in Cockerton.  Picture: AJA DODDHeron Foods in Cockerton. Picture: AJA DODD

One pint of Chestnut Dairies skimmed, semi-skimmed or whole milk costs £1, meaning, a third of a pint of milk per day still costs more than the target of 30p.

The Northern Echo: The cheapest milk on offer was one pint for £1.  Picture: AJA DODDThe cheapest milk on offer was one pint for £1. Picture: AJA DODD

Hunger Breaks branded baked beans costing £0.39 each or three for £1. Even this budget-friendly dinner costs over the 30p target.

The Northern Echo: A staple for anyone on a budget, these beans cost 39p per tin or three for £1.  Picture: AJA DODDA staple for anyone on a budget, these beans cost 39p per tin or three for £1. Picture: AJA DODD

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Six bananas for £0.89, or 14.3p per banana. To abide by Lee Anderson’s suggested daily spending, two bananas would constitute a meal.

The Northern Echo: A fruit bowl staple, six bananas will cost you 89p.  Picture: AJA DODDA fruit bowl staple, six bananas will cost you 89p. Picture: AJA DODD

Six eggs will cost 75p, or 12.5p per egg. Alternatively, a box of 10 eggs is priced at £1.29.

The Northern Echo: A good source of protein, six eggs will cost you 75p.  Picture: AJA DODDA good source of protein, six eggs will cost you 75p. Picture: AJA DODD

The Northern Echo: 10 eggs will cost you £1.29.  Picture: AJA DODD10 eggs will cost you £1.29. Picture: AJA DODD

Bread has always been essential and the cheapest loaf we could find cost for £1 for 400g.

The Northern Echo: The cheapest loaf we could find cost £1.  Picture: AJA DODDThe cheapest loaf we could find cost £1. Picture: AJA DODD

A tin of soup costs nearly double the 30p-per-meal target at 59p each.

The Northern Echo: These tins of soup priced at 59p cost almost double what Lee Anderson MP envisaged the public spending on meals.  Picture: AJA DODDThese tins of soup priced at 59p cost almost double what Lee Anderson MP envisaged the public spending on meals. Picture: AJA DODD

Read more: Darlington man running waste removal service fined for fly-tipping offenses

Tinned tuna is another staple, and a tin of Skipjack branded tuna chunks in brine (160g) cost. £0.69, over twice what Lee Anderson MP said the public could make a meal for.

The Northern Echo: One tin of tuna will cost more than double what Lee Anderson thinks the public ought to spend on ingredients for a meal.  Picture: AJA DODDOne tin of tuna will cost more than double what Lee Anderson thinks the public ought to spend on ingredients for a meal. Picture: AJA DODD

The British public cannot survive without tea bags, and these Tetley tea bags will cost you £1 for 72 bags.

The Northern Echo: The British public can't survive without tea bags, and the cheapest option we could find cost £1 for 72 tea bags.  Picture: AJA DODDThe British public can’t survive without tea bags, and the cheapest option we could find cost £1 for 72 tea bags. Picture: AJA DODD

Instant noodles: Pot noodles costing £0.70 each.

The Northern Echo: These instant noodles were the same price as a lesser-known brand at 70p each.  Picture: AJA DODDThese instant noodles were the same price as a lesser-known brand at 70p each. Picture: AJA DODD

This demonstrates that even on a very frugal budget, it is unrealistic to expect the public to make a meal on 30p per day, with a situation made worse with the increasing energy prices.

Read more: Just Eat drivers begin strike action in Darlington over pay cut and ‘bad’ conditions

The problem for most seems to be a lack of money, as opposed to a lack of home-economics skills.

The number of foodbanks in the UK has risen sharply in the last decade and there are now more foodbanks across the country than there are branches of McDonald’s.

Speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, Mr Anderson doubled down on his remarks, saying he was being criticized for “talking common sense”.

“The point I was trying to make is that I think the current food bank usage is exaggerated,” he said.

“I work with a local food bank in Ashfield and they’ve got a wonderful initiative where, when people come to the food bank, they’re given a food package but they have to enroll on a cooking course and a budgeting course – that’s the deal.”

Read more: 7 food outlets which have recently opened in Darlington town center

Following the comments, The Child Poverty Action Group claimed politicians “would do better to back real-world solutions, like bringing benefits in line with inflation this autumn”, while the Trussell Trust charity insisted “cooking meals from scratch won’t help families keep the lights on or put food on the table, if they don’t have enough money in their pockets”.

Meanwhile on Thursday evening, a minister has distanced the Government from controversial comments made by Mr Anderson.

Asked on Thursday on Sky News after Mr Anderson told the House of Commons that “generation after generation” of people “cannot budget” or make meals properly, justice minister Victoria Atkins said the remarks were “not right”.

“This is not the view of me or anyone else in Government. We want to give not just immediate help but longer-term support as well,” she said.

What do you make of your comments? Leave your thoughts below…

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