17 April 2014
I explained what I thought of poverty and the need for foodbanks six months ago in this post. The Trussell Trust, which organises more than four hundred foodbanks in the UK, now says that in it gave three-day food parcels to 913 138 people, adults and children, in 2013/14.
This is vast failure – by government, by parties, by the state, by us. Britain is, despite the economic difficulties, a rich country. To see nearly a million of our fellow people needing food parcels is shaming.
The Trussell Trust points out that its figures represent “the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty, it doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no foodbank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food”. The shame deepens.
Much of the need for food parcels is caused by Tory Libdem government incompetence and callousness. Last year the Tory Libdem government stopped claims for benefits in the first seven days of unemployment which left some unemployed people with no money for that week. The Trussell Trust says that half of the referrals of people to its foodbanks are “a result of benefit delays or changes”. We shall not get from the government a serious review of the damaging benefit changes, including brutal sanctioning arrangements, despite the apparent discovery of social justice by Libdems as the general election approaches. However, benefit delays are chiefly a pragmatic question: we really can improve delivery if we are resolved.
In 2010/11, the first year of the Tory Libdem government, there were 61 468 people who came to a Trussell foodbank. The user figures increased under the Labour government too but not by so much.
Here is an earlier post: More hungry people, more foodbanks. It links to other posts.