THE Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the Government will “continue to support people on low incomes” on a visit to West Yorkshire.

In the past ten years, levels of poverty, child poverty and food bank use have been rising in the Bradford district and across West Yorkshire, and this has been accelerated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Johnson was visiting the Fox’s Biscuits factory in Batley ahead of the Batley and Spen by-election to support Conservative candidate Ryan Stephenson.

On poverty and the use of food banks, which saw food banks in Bradford deliver 21,699 parcels in the year 2020/21, 9,000 more than the year before, and included 5,191 given to children, Mr Johnson said the Government is supporting families on low incomes “in all sorts of ways”.

He said: “We have uplifted Universal Credit, but one of the best things we’ve done is ensure people are better paid through the Living Wage and the constant increases, record increases.

“One of the most interesting things about the economy at the moment is actually that firms need labour, and there is a premium on good quality workers in all sorts of sectors as the economy reopens.

“That’s pushing up wages and I think that’s a good thing making sure people are properly paid; that’s the single most important thing to do.

“We are supporting people who can’t work and who are on benefits, and making sure that we cautiously but irreversibly get the economy open again so the unfairness you rightly point out, and the way Covid and the lockdowns disproportionately hit people on low incomes, that we go beyond that and people are able to earn and get on with their lives again.”

Previously, Bradford Central Food Bank has said it is seeing all sorts of people coming for help since the Covid-19 pandemic began, including people on Universal Credit and working people who can’t make ends meet due to low wages.

Josie Barlow, who runs the food bank, said changes to Universal Credit are needed to help steer people away from needing food parcels to survive, and that the £20 uplift brought in by the Conservatives stays for good rather than being scrapped in September as currently planned.

The Trussell Trust, which supports food banks across the UK, said no one should face the “indignity” of needing to use food banks, while the Independent Food Aid Network said it is “the Government’s responsibility to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials.”