A SENIOR politician has praised a Southampton store that is proving “so important” during the cost of living crisis.

Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves MP, visited the Company Shop in Hawkeswood Road, off Bitterne Road West, earlier today.

She was shown around the store, which sells products from major retailers at a discounted price.

All items are in date and perfectly good to eat or use, but are deemed ‘surplus’ and may have otherwise gone to waste due to incorrect labelling and seasonal packaging, amongst many other reasons.

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“It’s really great to be in Southampton today and visit the Company Shop which is a really innovative business, which is a membership organisation and if you are a key worker, or on certain means-tested benefits, you can join and as a result get access to their heavily-discounted product range,” Ms Reeves told the Echo.

“And they get stuff in from all the big supermarkets and retailers and wholesalers and sell it at a discounted rate to their members, which during the cost of living crisis, is just so important and is a real benefit to their members, because a lot of people at the moment are having to make really difficult decisions, and many people are struggling and everyone is noticing higher gas and electricity bills, higher cost of the weekly shop, higher prices of petrol at the pump.”

Company Shop opened last summer and is open to almost all key workers, including those working in the NHS, social care, emergency services, FMCG supply chain, British Armed Forces and prison services.

“By helping people with lower food prices means that people have that money for those essential bills as well,” continued Ms Reeves, who is also MP for Leeds West.

“The other thing about what I saw today is the amount of food that would otherwise end up in landfill, and it isn’t in landfill because it’ll end up on people’s plates.

“That’s really fantastic as well because we know we’ve got to do much more to protect the plant, to get to net zero, and also to keep our planet clean and green – they’re contributing to that as well.”

When asked how important Southampton is to the UK’s economy, Ms Reeves added: “Southampton is really important and we want it to play its full part and the economy can’t just be powered by London and a few big cities.

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“We need all parts of the UK including coastal communities playing their full role.

“Southampton’s got so much going for it, and it’s also a key battleground for the local elections this year.”

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