Philip Blond of Respublica has highlighted an increasing emergency use of Britain's 65 food banks.
"The reasons people find themselves in a scenario where they or their families face genuine hunger are varied but in rough order of importance they are:
- benefit delay
- low income,
- family break up, and
- mental or physical ill-health.
In those areas where food banks operate, front line professional carers give vouchers for those they assess in real need to access their food banks. Social workers, health visitors, citizens advice staff and housing support and youth offending teams all can refer, but one of the most crucial referrers who assess and identify genuine and crisis need is the job centre. Yet here staff, many of whom want to help their service-users in this way, have been forbidden by the previous government from giving out food vouchers…
According to information from the Trussel Trust – one of the charities behind the [food bank] network – in the last 12 months over 41,000 people across the UK received emergency food from these charity foodbanks, a 70% increase on the previous year. Of these, 35% (14,350 people) were referred to the foodbank due to benefit delay."
There appear to be two key problems here:
(1) The benefits system and its failure to pay people promptly;
(2) The last government's ban on job centres making referrals to voluntary sector help.
Over to you Mr Duncan Smith.