Comedy star Ricky Tomlinson officially opened up the new extension at an East Durham foodbank and challenged MPs to swap places with those on Universal Credit.
The actor - best known for his roles as Jim in 'The Royle Family' and 'Mike Bassett - England Manager' - visited Peterlee's East Durham Trust as demand for food parcels in the area have increased due to the new controversial benefit system. The increase has meant the Trust has had to open a new room to keep up with the demands.
Staff and volunteers now help well over 100 individuals and families every week, which is why it has called the new facility 'The Universal Credit Room'.
Speaking about foodbanks and officially opening the new room, Ricky said: "I'm sat in the middle of a room stocked with food that is going to be used by people who can't afford food or don't have anything to eat. It makes me feel very, very proud to be here and be part of this but it also makes me very, very angry because in 2019, in one of the richest countries on the planet, this shouldn't be happening."
Ricky said he felt strongly about people in the UK struggling to eat and live and believes there needs to be change in the system.
He added: "Let's have an experiment where we get a group of MPs and put them in a council house and give them the exact benefits that the people they are replacing live on."
Malcolm Fallow, CEO of East Durham Trust, said: "Universal Credit is a devastating part of the welfare's economy and the issue around it is the amount of time people have to wait before they get any money."
East Durham Trust
T: 0191 5693511