food bank
With benefits frozen or taken away from many people, reliance on food banks is increasingGetty

A Green Party MEP has called for the European Union (EU) to help fund food banks in the UK in a bid to help lift the burden on charities.

Keith Taylor, who represents the south east of England, told IBTimes UK the move would help out in the meantime.

But the former principal speaker of the Green Party said the state should introduce a Living Wage and reform the benefits system to address the "terrible problems" food bank claimants are facing.

"The state needs to play a more active role in supporting those enterprises, including funding. But hopefully this will be finite," Taylor said. "If you look at the way that food bank use has increased, it's markedly done so over the past few years despite the government's attempts to try and suppress the information about the number of food banks.

"Hopefully there won't be food banks in a few years. In the meantime, we can apply for European funds to get us through this crisis and we are entitled to draw down some funding from Europe to do that if the government says it hasn't got enough money."

The Trussell Trust, the main provider of food banks in the UK, said almost one million people (913,138) were given a three-day-long emergency food package from one of their outlets in the 2013-14 financial year.

Food banks become hot topic

The issue of food banks have become a hot political subject and the likes of Church of England and Oxfam have weighed in on the topic.

The group published a joint report alongside The Trussell Trust in November 2014, which argued gaps in the UK's welfare systems were forcing people to turn to the emergency food outlets. The report also found a majority of claimants had serious personal financial crises and only turned to food banks as a last resort when other coping strategies had failed.

Natalie Bennett
Natalie Bennett wants 'collective justice' when it comes to dealing with welfare issues in the UKBBC/YouTube

But the government criticised the report and claimed the research had used "self-selecting" data. "The report itself concludes it can't prove anything – it uses self-selecting data and recognises there are complex underlying issues," a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said.

"We have a strong safety net in place, spending £94bn a year on working-age benefits, and we provide a wide range of advice and assistance for anyone in need of additional support."

However, the food bank issue has not abated and Natalie Bennett also touched upon the matter during her speech at her party's spring conference in Liverpool.

"I applaud the growing number of individuals who contribute to, who volunteer in, who run, food banks. But this individual charity is no substitute for collective justice," the Green leader said.

"This is the outcome of the years of Blair, of Brown, of the Cameron/Clegg Coalition and austerity Britain. This is the record of George Osborne's 'long term economic plan'. The Green Party are calling time on the politics of low wages, job insecurity and fearing the food bank."