Social Justice

Tory MP slammed for claiming people can save money with Tesco weetabix and 10p worth of milk

Tory MP Lee Anderson was slammed by campaigners after he claimed weetabix and 10p worth of milk would help save people money in the cost of living crisis

weetabix/ tory mp

Could weetabix for breakfast be a solution in the cost of living crisis? A Tory MP thinks so. Image: Flickr/ Marco Verch

Tory MP Lee Anderson was branded “30p Lee” last year after he claimed food banks are not really necessary because people can cook meals for 30p a day. And now he’s come up with another bright idea for our cost of living crisis times.

The MP for Ashfield and Eastwood has claimed people can simply save money by eating Tesco wheat biscuits and topping their bowl with 10p worth of milk. Easy solution to poverty, huh? If only more people had thought of that. 

To recap, Anderson said in parliament in May that the reasons for food insecurity were not rampant inflation, in-work poverty, runaway energy bills and economic turmoil, but just because some people haven’t learned to cook.

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

Apparently not one to take a hint, he’s now reignited that argument. He tweeted on Wednesday: “Just been asked for proof of a 30p breakfast. There you go,” alongside a stock photo of plain weetabix and milk. 

Then, “for the doubters”, he clarified: “6p each, just chuck on 10p worth of milk. Milk at Tesco £1.65 for four pints. Wait for the denial.”

There have been more than 4,000 replies to the two tweets, many of them pointing out the obvious problems with Anderson’s solutions to widespread hunger and poverty in the UK.

Lee Anderson did not respond to requests for comment.

Kwajo Tweneboa, a housing and poverty campaigner, said: “Last time I checked MPs were paid £80,000+ to represent their constituents and try to deliver the best for the people of Britain. 

“Not sit on twitter suggesting poor people should reduce themselves to surviving on cheap own brand Weetabix and 10p worth of milk.”

Other social media users have criticised Anderson for failing to understand the realities of the cost of living crisis. One person tweeted: “If you drink 10p worth of milk for breakfast every day then after about six days you’ll have to throw the other £1 worth of milk away.” 

Another added: “That’s one breakfast. One single basic breakfast. Where’s the rest of the 30p meal plan with lunches, dinners and showing how it meets basic nutritional values? And make it for a month, Lee. Or is this all that working class people deserve?”

One man said he had attempted to eat plain weetabix for breakfast. “By day four I couldn’t even manage to swallow them,” he said. “More bearable if coated in sugar or syrup but unfortunately my body or my purse can afford either. I may be poor and disabled but my body functions slightly better with a decent diet.”

The parody Twitter account Sir Michael Take CBE, who claims to be a former Tory MP, said: “Lee you have nailed it! In fact the poor could also have Weetabix for lunch and dinner too. This would save them tons of money.”

The basic annual salary for an MP from April 2022 is £84,144, according to government figures. MPs also receive expenses to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, housing and travel. 

A team of journalists at Sky and Tortoise have created a searchable database allowing people to see exactly how much their MP has earned on top of their salary since the last election in 2019. 

The 36 donations, gifts, payments and other benefits Anderson has declared so far are worth the equivalent of approximately £66,620.

Anderson was confronted by activist Steve Bray on Wednesday outside Westminster underground station. Bray said: “How’s your subsidised meals going, Lee? Looks like you’re benefiting from them.”

The Tory MP retorted: “It’s a new year, but you haven’t got a new job yet, have you? You’re still a parasite. You’re still a scrounger. You’re still a malingerer.”

A scuffle then broke out after the Tory MP grabbed Bray’s iconic top hat. Nigel Farage tweeted the video calling Anderson a “legend”. 

Anderson was formerly a Labour councillor but switched parties over Brexit, claiming the “hard-left” — who aren’t in power — were failing working people.

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The government has introduced targeted support for vulnerable people – such as cost of living payments – but charities continue to warn that it’s not enough as food banks reach “breaking point” and families struggle to afford food.

A total of 9.7 million adults experienced food insecurity in September 2022, the Food Foundation reports. 

And the Trussell Trust saw record numbers of people seeking help between April and September last year, with 320,000 people forced to turn to the charity’s food banks. That is a 40 per cent increase in comparison to the previous year – and the charity has warned it is only expected to get worse in the coming months if the government does not act.

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The Big Issue’s #BigFutures campaign is calling for investment in decent and affordable housing, ending the low wage economy, and millions of green jobs. The last 10 years of austerity and cuts to public services have failed to deliver better living standards for people in this country. Sign the open letter and demand a better future. 

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