MP Simon Clarke stands by nurses-using-foodbanks remarks – BBC

A former cabinet minister has said he stands by his comments on nurses' pay.
Simon Clarke came under fire after he said "something is wrong with your budgeting" if people used food banks and their average salary was £35,000.
The Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland told the BBC Politics North that he believed the debate had been "distorted".
Labour's Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah described Mr Clarke's comments on budgeting as "insulting".
The former Levelling Up Secretary under Liz Truss made the initial comments after nurses began their latest two-day strike last week.
He told BBC Radio Tees: "I do not believe that people on an average salary of £35,000 a year need to be using food banks."
His remarks were branded "disgusting, heartless and dangerously out of touch" by the Royal College of Nursing union.
A starting salary for a band 5 nurse is just over £27,000 a year while nurses with four years' experience could earn close to £33,000.
On Sunday, Mr Clarke was asked if he regretted his comments.
He said: "What I said was that, if you are earning the average nurses wage, which is £35,000 a year according not to me but to the Royal College of Nursing, if you are earning that salary then I do not believe that that is a salary at which, routinely, you should need to use a food bank, and I think that is an important thing to say.
"Obviously the median salary in this country is about £28,000".
Asked whether people might find his comments offensive, due to his own parliamentary earnings, he added: "I don't think they would, because the reality is, there's a lot of people in my constituency who obviously earn a fraction of £35,000 and I was saying if you're earning £35,000 then you oughtn't to routinely need to use a food bank – and I think that is important comment to make because actually, well this debate has been distorted."
Ms Onwurah, a shadow science minister, told the programme that a former member of Liz Truss' cabinet should not be offering people financial advice.
"You are still a supporter of Liz Truss' 'kamiKwasi' budget which crashed the UK economy, made everybody poorer, send billions of pounds which could have gone to an industrial strategy or to the NHS which we lost out as a [concern] of that," she said.
"And to be giving nurses budgeting advice is absolute, is insulting and is absolutely ridiculous."
The RCN has announced its members will strike again on 6 and 7 February in a row over pay, asking for increases of 5% above the Retail Prices Index (RPI) rate of inflation, which currently stands at 14%.
The governments in England and Wales have offered an average of 4.75% to NHS staff, with everyone guaranteed at least £1,400.
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