Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has refused requests to meet the leaders of a major foodbank charity and accused them of "scaremongering", it emerged tonight.
The Conservative Cabinet Minister told the Trussell Trust he denied claims that benefits reforms were linked to the rocketing number of people turning to it for help and suggested the organisation was political.
Since April more than 500,000 people, of which one third are children, have received emergency supplies from the 400 food banks run by the Trussell Trust charity and it has asked on a number of occasions for meetings with Department for Work and Pensions ministers.
But Mr Duncan Smith criticised the "political messaging of your organisation", which "despite claiming to be nonpartisan" had "repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network to welfare reform", according to the Observer.
More than 1.5 million pensioners in the UK are now living in food poverty and are set to be hit the hardest this winter, according to new research.
The report compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research said the rising cost of essentials such as food, has affected over 65s the hardest as their weekly shopping bill reaches an all-time high.
The study shows the over 65s will spend an average of £699 on food between October and December this year, an increase of £138 compared to the same quarter five years ago.