The Bishop of Truro has joined senior clergy across the country in blaming the Government for a 'national crisis' of hunger and soaring foodbank use.

David Cameron has been slammed by 25 Anglican bishops, including the Bishop of Truro Tim Thornton, 14 Methodist districts chairs and two Quakers for creating a situation where 500,000 people visited food banks since Easter last year.

Saying "cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system" were forcing people into destitution, they add that over half of people using food banks are in that situation due to failures in the benefit system, "whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions".

The open letter to Mr Cameron follows the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Vincent Nichols describing government's welfare reforms as a disgrace.

Expressing astonishment that people in the world's seventh richest country are going hungry, they add that thousands have been admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition and say that 20 per cent of mothers are "skipping meals to better feed their children".

The bishops write: "We often hear talk of hard choices. Surely few can be harder than that faced by the tens of thousands of older people who must 'heat or eat' each winter, harder than those faced by families whose wages have stayed flat while food prices have gone up 30 per cent in just five years. Yet beyond even this we must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions."

"We urge those of all faith and none, people of good conscience, to join with us. There is an acute moral imperative to act. Hundreds of thousands of people are doing so already, as they set up and support food banks across the UK. But this is a national crisis, and one we must rise to. We call on government to do its part: acting to investigate food markets that are failing, to make sure that work pays, and to ensure that the welfare system provides a robust last line of defence against hunger."

The Prime Minister has previously defended welfare changes as part of a "moral mission" and that claims changes to the benefits system had left many people facing hunger and destitution were "simply not true".