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Begging to differ over Church and food banks

15 February 2013


From the Revd Paul Nicolson

Sir, - The Archbishop of Canterbury's comments about food banks ( News, 8 February) need some qualification.

Here in Haringey, three wards had high rates of low birth-weight between 2007 and 2009: Tottenham Green 12.5 per cent of live births; St Ann's 9.4 per cent; Haringey 11.62 per cent. The average for the borough of Haringey is 7.63 per cent, and England 7.53 per cent, and the OECD in 2008 6.4 per cent, with Iceland lowest at 3.8 per cent and Turkey highest at 11 per cent.

Professor Michael Crawford, of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, has shown that low birth-weight associated with poor maternal nutrition and foetal growth-restriction is the strongest predictor of poor learning ability, school performance, behavioural disorders, and crime.

National policies about the level of benefits and how they are capped and cut have ignored for decades the escalating prices of the minimum quantities of food, fuel, clothes, transport, and other necessities needed for healthy living. Haringey Council has shown that the single adult unemployment benefit of £71 a week will be hit by any, some or all, of a minimum of £3.18 council tax, £5.89 rent unpaid owing to the housing-benefit cap, and £38.15 rent unpaid, owing to the overall benefit cap £38.15, and a maximum of £7.43, £51.89, and £193.54 respectively from April this year.

Women need a healthy diet before they conceive and while they are pregnant to give birth to healthy babies. They are running out of money to feed themselves and their children, and going to food banks that provide food for only three days, three times with intervals, is not enough for a healthy diet before or during a nine-month pregnancy.

Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road
London N17 0BF

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