WHEN I was first elected in 2005, we had a Labour Government and no food banks in this constituency.

Now, after nine years of Tory rule, there are seven.

In each foodbank, volunteers do valuable work. Those who donate tins, jars and bottles are a lifeline to their neighbours. Every day, my team get calls and emails from constituents with Universal Credit problems, and we do everything possible to help.

As volunteers, donors and MPs, we work to combat the effects for individuals. But we cannot solve every issue this cruel system causes. We need change in the system.

I have voted against every single benefit cut; against Universal Credit roll-out and the five-week wait which causes misery for families. Over five years, I have asked 109 written questions and spoken in Parliament 23 times on benefit cuts.

Labour will scrap Universal Credit and replace it with a system dedicated to dignity and universalism. Labour will act quickly to fix the worst features of Universal Credit, ending the five week wait. Labour will reduce poverty as we did between 1997 and 2010.

Helen Goodman MP, Bishop Auckland