THE sharp rise in people relying on foodbanks is 'staggering' but 'not a surprise' according to one Cheshire politician.

Mike Amesbury, Labour MP for Weaver Vale was speaking after the latest figures released by The Trussell Trust last week revealed a stark increase in the number of food parcels being delivered to those in need across the county.

Almost 10,000 parcels were distributed across Cheshire West and Chester between April and September this year, which is a 30 per cent increase on the same period in 2019, with around 4000 of them being provided for children.

He said: "These are staggering and alarming figures, but sadly not a surprise.

"While Covid and the fallout from lockdown has put even greater pressure on everyday budgets, food bank use should not be viewed in isolation.

"They're a product of over a decade of austerity that has left many families unable to cope, even before the pandemic hit.

"Now the events of this year have just heaped further misery on many."

Mr Amesbury went on to criticise the government on its handling of the recent school meal crisis, a campaign spearheaded by Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford.

He added: "The government's attitude to hunger all too often is deny it's an issue or try and pass the buck, we've seen that only recently with the campaign around school meal vouchers.

"Only at the 11th hour, due to much justified criticism, did Boris Johnson back down and do the right thing.

"But I'd also like to pay tribute to the dedicated volunteers and those that make donations to our local foodbanks, without whom many families would not know where their next meal was coming from."

Edward Timpson CBE, the Conservative MP for Eddisbury, said people used food banks 'for many and varied reasons' and added how the government were continuing to provide 'a strong safety net' through the welfare system for those who need extra support during 'an unprecedented time'.

He said: "I welcome the measures to strengthen the welfare system by increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance and the Working Tax Credit basic element by £1,000 per year for 12 months.

"In addition, almost £28 billion has been provided to support local government and local communities respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

"No one should go hungry or be unable to pay their bills this winter, and I welcome the new Winter Grant Scheme, which will deliver £170 million of funding to councils in England to provide vital support to the most vulnerable children and families through this winter.

"Research carried out by organisations, including the Trussell Trust, is regularly reviewed to add to the understanding of food bank use, and I am encouraged to hear that Government ministers intend to work more closely with the Trussell Trust and other food bank providers to help provide a better understanding of the needs of the families they serve.

"This will allow the Government to put in place appropriate interventions to make the situation better for Cheshire families.

"I would also like to thank those volunteers, both in food banks and across Cheshire civil society, who have gone the extra mile to help those less fortunate than themselves during the national emergency. They can be justifiably proud."