Updated November 2015
In 2008 I was looking for a food parcel for a person who had no food. After hours of trying various outreaches, etc I found one organization that said it would help but they could only help just this one time. Back then I thought I’d look to see how many food banks there are in this country.
The Trussell Trust was launching two to three new foodbanks every week to help meet demand and had launched 400 UK foodbanks in partnership with churches and communities to date (2013)
I was shocked. More shocking is that it has become the norm.
In 2008-09 Trussell Trust foodbanks gave three days’ emergency food to 26,000 people nationwide;
in 2009-10: 41,000 were helped;
in 2010-11: 61,468;
in 2011-12: 128,697;
in 2012-13: 346,992.
Food banks: a damning indictment of the government’s failure to tackle hardship, or a shining example of citizen action?
David Cameron thought it was a shining example and praised volunteers who help distribute donated food to the needy as “part of what I call the Big Society”. To me it feels more like the total abdication for taking responsibility for his governments austerity cuts that have left hundreds of thousands without the means to feed themselves! Some Big Society!
And for those who would like to see him say this at Prime Minister’s Question Time 19th December, roll the video to 6.00
He thinks that we should praise The Big Society for the setup of food banks – How more out of touch and removed from reality could he be?.
A government briefing SN06657 published 2014 regarding the Jobcentres role in referring people to food banks in stated that “The original version of the Jobcenter Plus referral form included boxes to tick to indicate the reason for the referral. However, a report in The Guardian on 6 September 2013 said that the DWP had “unilaterally redesigned the food bank vouchers it issues to clients” – the three boxes on the previous form which had enabled JobCentre Plus “to indicate why they referred the person: because of benefit delay, benefit change, or refusal of crisis loan … have been removed [from the new form]. The vouchers no longer tell the [Trussell] trust why the person has been referred”.
It also stated “A number of significant changes to the benefits system have also been made including: the abolition of the Social Fund and the introduction of local welfare provision, the reassessment of incapacity benefit claimants, measures to control Housing Benefit expenditure and the introduction of a new benefits “conditionality and sanctions” regime. Many speculate that such welfare reforms are having the biggest impact on the growth of food banks but the Government maintains that there is “no robust evidence” to link the two”– So basically the DWP feels that as they don’t have any stats then the problem doesn’t exist!
Shame on you Mr Cameron.