The Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement confirms that this government is still unwilling to recognise the damage caused by its austerity policies.

National food bank charity The Trussell Trust said in its response: “We have seen a record demand in food bank use – our network gave out 1.3 million three-day parcels in the last year, a 13% increase in need. The key driver for this rise was incomes not covering the cost of essentials – and the majority of these incomes came through benefits.

“By failing to end the benefits freeze and five-week wait for Universal Credit, thousands more people will become trapped in poverty and may be forced to a food bank as a result.

“The Government needs to put money back into the pockets of people who have lost the most to austerity. Ending poverty and hunger in the UK shouldn’t be sidelined – the time to act is now.”

Government-imposed austerity makes council tax increasingly unaffordable – in 2017/18, Herefordshire Council had to summons 7,586 people for non-payment. That’s a huge proportion of the county’s households. I established last year through a freedom of information request that the council could not say how many of the people summonsed for non-payment were in receipt of benefits.

I urge the council to be sensitive to the financial situation many residents find themselves in when deciding how aggressively to recover overdue council tax. Why not establish who is on benefits or is using a food bank before resorting to the courts?

Alan Wheatley

(Hereford & South Herefordshire Green Party)