Tagged: food bank

Welfare Cuts Will Lead To Soaring Levels Of Food Poverty, Warn Food Banks

Rising living costs, stagnate wages and welfare reform are frequently cited as the primary causes for rising food poverty and in increase in the demand for food banks.

New research reveals the stark reality behind food poverty in the UK and shows how benefit changes are fuelling soaring levels of hunger and poverty.

Think Money surveyed 70 independent food banks to discover why more families than ever before are turning to them for help.

The survey also reveals the growing strain felt by food banks, as a growing number of families regularly go without food and struggle to cope with welfare cuts.

There has been a 66% increase in the number of independent food banks opening over the last three years. This is in addition to food banks operated by larger providers like Trussell Trust, who handed out more than one million food parcels in 2014-15.

A staggering 59% of food banks users say they frequently go without food three or more times a week.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/152/welfare-cuts-soaring-levels-poverty

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Hebburn businesswoman turns spare room into food bank

A Hebburn woman is hoping to help put food on the table of South Tyneside families struggling to make ends meet.

After her plans got out, she was inundated with generous donations from members of the public and, what was just an idea, quickly became a reality.

The 46-year-old said:

“I’ve got my own clothing alterations and repair shop and, a couple of months ago, I began thinking about turning the upstairs of the shop into a food bank.

“There is nothing like this in Hebburn that I’m aware of and I know what it is like to struggle.”

“A few people found out and started dropping off donations. At that point I hadn’t made my mind up but with the donations coming in, I thought I might as well go ahead with the idea.”

Despite only officially running the food bank for just over a week, Jo has been able to help three families who were left struggling to put food on the table.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/125/hebburn-businesswoman-turns-spare-room

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TORY MP says Benefits Crackdown Forces People To Food Banks

A Conservative MP has said stopping payments to benefit claimants is forcing people to food banks – contradicting a Government minister overseeing the crackdown.

Andrew Percy, who represents Brigg and Goole on Humberside, went on to criticise the “consistency” of the benefits sanctions regime and called for a review.

His comments in the House of Commons came minutes after Employment Minster Priti Patel argued there is “no robust evidence that directly links sanctions and food bank use”.

Benefit claimants can have their payments suspended or docked if they break the rules, but critics claim many of the breaches are trivial. The Work and Pensions Committee of MPs has twice called for an independent inquiry.

The Trussell Trust charity says a record one million packages were given out by food banks last year.

Mr Percy’s intervention followed the Labour frontbench and two SNP MPs berating the Government for fuelling the need for hand-outs of food parcels.

Full story :  http://northstar.boards.net/thread/111/benefits-crackdown-forces-people-banks

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Undercover at the Jobcentre

I asked the Jobcentre to let me have work experience there so I could dig up some dirt on the DWP. I did the work experience in another JCP in a different area from 9th March 2015 to 26th March 2015. All names are changed.

Alarm bells started to ring before I’d even started the placement. As I read the training material I overheard a man getting referred to the decision-maker for not applying for jobs. For the first job, there was no bus to get there on time. The other job he didn’t apply for required qualifications he didn’t have.

At about 10:15 on the first day of my work experience (Tuesday 10th March 2015) administrator Pammy said shows like Benefits Britain make her angry because those programmes depict JCP staff as “ogres” but it’s the benefits claimants who are lazy. “They were sanctioned for a reason,” she kept saying.

Pammy said the show had portrayed a lone mum with three kids who was sanctioned and now dependent on a food bank. The woman said she was feeding her kids out of the freezer but didn’t have enough frozen food to feed them. Pammy called her “lazy” and said she should “buy fresh food then” and that she obviously “has an attitude problem.”

During my time in the Jobcentre I saw numerous examples of staff insensitivity towards ESA claimants and customers who were ill. An ESA claimant came in asking why he hadn’t been paid. It turned out that his benefits had been stopped because he hadn’t got a ‘sick line’ (note of unfitness for work) from his GP to prove he was still unfit for work.

In response to my question about why he was on ESA, Pammy said he might be depressed. She said this is a “lazy attitude” but that now his benefit is stopped then he’ll go because he wants benefits. She kept repeating this point, convinced that benefits were the only thing that motivated depressed people (or Jobcentre customers generally).

Another morning, a JSA claimant told me she was now sanctioned and applying for hardship funds. She’d been ill and missed a Jobcentre appointment. She had phoned the doctor and went to get sick note the next day but her GP wouldn’t give her one because they didn’t see her the day she was ill, so she was sanctioned.

A man who was claiming JSA came into the Jobcentre to explain that he didn’t sign-on on Friday because he went to a funeral. Pammy said he would “probably” be referred to a decision-maker and maybe he’d get sanctioned. She also criticised him for waiting until 1pm the next working day (Monday) to inform the Jobcentre instead of telling them on Friday, the day of the funeral.

G4S security guard (‘Customer Care Officer’) Bob pointed out a customer to me and claimed he was a lost cause. He said some claimants would “like you to think [they’re looking for work]” but they aren’t, and he “will never get a job, who would hire him, would you give him a job?” Bob then suggested “They should just be wiped out, we shouldn’t have to deal with them”.

Read rest of article here –

http://northstar.boards.net/thread/44/undercover-jobcentre

Fencehouses – New Foodbank opens

A new foodbank distribution point has opened in a small village.

The County Durham Foodbank food collection point will operate from the YMCA at Fencehouses near Chester-le-Street every Tuesday from 1pm to 3pm.

Stuart Hudson, Foodbank distribution centres manager, said:

“We are always looking for areas that will benefit from a Foodbank presence to meet the needs of those within communities who are in crisis.

“YMCA Fencehouses have identified that their local community would benefit from Foodbank support and we are looking forward to building relationships with referral agencies, local communities and the YMCA.”

Project lead David McCreedy said:

“For any Foodbank, feeding people in financial crisis is what they do.

“At Fencehouses YMCA Foodbank however, we consider that it is equally important to identify why people are becoming hungry and to take action to reduce food poverty. We will work with those using the Foodbank to support them in other areas of their difficult predicament.”

The County Durham Foodbank takes referrals from various agencies and currently runs 27 distribution points. Last year it provided 15,500 three-day food parcels to 9,963 individuals, many affected by welfare reforms or benefit delays.

Source – Durham Times, 27 May 2015

David Cameron Urged To Meet With Victims Of Tory Austerity

A church minister has written a stirring and emotional letter to David Cameron, urging the Prime Minister to meet with victims of austerity and consider the “social and human cost” of Tory policies.

In a letter posted on the social network Facebook, which has been shared over 100,000 times and sent to Downing Street, Reverend Mike Walsh says he agrees with the PM that the best route out of poverty is by moving into work. But says David Cameron doesn’t seem to understand that people are scared about “what your policies will do to our communities and families”.

Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools. Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.”

Reverend Walsh, from The United Reformed Church, says Tory policies are “couched in terms of reducing the deficit and balancing the books”, and pleaded with Mr Cameron “to govern for everyone and unite the country”.

“The country isn’t a business, it’s its people. All its people. And you are everyone’s Prime Minister whether we voted for you or not.”

David Cameron may better understand the human cost of austerity measures if he spent “a week or two living on the minimum wage, or volunteer in a food bank”, says Reverend Walsh.

Go to Liverpool and meet people with disabled dependents who can’t afford even one nanny, or to Newcastle and talk to people still living in poverty due to the demise of the coal industry.”

He added: “If you do that, then maybe you can heal some of the fractures in our society. Without this I just don’t believe you can see just how crucial these issues are.”

Foodbank charity Trussell Trust gave out more than one million food parcels in 2014/15, with benefit delays cited as the primary cause of rising food poverty in the UK.

Foodbank use is soaring. Source: Trussell Trust
Foodbank use is soaring. Source: Trussell Trust

The full letter reads:

Dear Prime Minister,

I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I have some things I wish to say to you.

You have won the General Election and command a majority in the House of Commons, and as such will feel you have a legitimate mandate to govern. However, you must also know that you don’t command a majority of the British people.

Although our political views are very much at odds on many issues, I’m willing to believe that you are a good man, as sure of your ideals as I am of mine, and believe your plan is what’s best for us all. You said today that you will govern for the whole country and bring back together that which has clearly fractured. I hope you will.

But Prime Minister, though you can obviously see your party did not win the confidence of Scotland and huge swathes of the north of England, I’m not sure your party quite understands why. It’s not because we’re all ‘loony-left’ or extremists and nationalists, it’s because so many of us are scared. Scared of what your policies will do to our communities and families. Scared of what will happen to our health service and our schools. Scared of losing our family homes for the sake of a few quid saving from the bedroom tax, or not being able to heat our home and have enough left to buy food.

I don’t disagree with you that the best way out of poverty is to work, nor do I think that people should get something for nothing and expect the tax-payer to support people indefinitely if they are able to work. Who would think that that was ok and fair?

But your party’s policies on these issues, couched in terms of reducing the deficit and balancing the books, don’t seem to take into account the social and human cost of such actions. The country isn’t a business, it’s its people. All its people. And you are everyone’s Prime Minister whether we voted for you or not.

You said today you will govern for everyone and unite the country. I hope you do. But to be able to do so you need to make it a priority in your first 100 days, to spend time in Scotland visiting people on zero hours contracts. Come to Manchester and talk with those who have been sanctioned for having a spare room, but have nowhere else to go. Go to Liverpool and meet people with disabled dependents who can’t afford even one nanny, or to Newcastle and talk to people still living in poverty due to the demise of the coal industry. Spend a week or two living on the minimum wage, or volunteer in a food bank for a whole day.

Then Prime Minister you might begin to understand the cost of your policies from the other side, to see people as more than their net contribution to the economy, or as deliberate drains on the system. If you do that, then maybe you can heal some of the fractures in our society. Without this I just don’t believe you can see just how crucial these issues are.

So please Prime Minister, leave Westminster for a few hours a week and truly strive to govern for all of us.

Rev’d Mike Walsh

The United Reformed Church

Source –  Welfare Weekly, 13 May 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/david-cameron-urged-to-meet-with-victims-of-tory-austerity/

Food Bank Users Could Top Two Million If Tories Win Election

The number of people reliant on food banks to help feed themselves and their families could rocket to more than two million, according to new research.

Research by Dr Rachel Loopstra, from Oxford University, forecasts that Tory plans for a further £12bn in welfare cuts could lead to a doubling in food banks users by 2017.

Trussell Trust, who operates over 440 food banks, gave out 1,084,604 emergency food parcels in 2014/15 – up from 61,468 in 2010/11.

The charity is just one of many food bank providers, charities and churches supporting hungry families across the UK.

Source: Trussell Trust
Source: Trussell Trust

The research also shows that rising food bank use is due to higher demand, rather than greater supply – as claimed by some government ministers.

According to a formula devised by Dr Loopstra, the number of food parcels given out per head of the population rises by 0.16% for every 1% cut in welfare spending.

Dr Loopstra said: “It coincides with spending cuts, welfare reform and record numbers of benefit claimants losing payments due to sanctions.”

Source: Trussell Trust
Source: Trussell Trust

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves seized on the figures, saying they were further evidence of the hardship and misery caused by Tory welfare policy.

“It would be an absolute disgrace for food bank use to double”, she said.

“The welfare state is there to provide a safety net. It’s not doing what it’s meant to do when people have to rely on charity.”

Reeves said David Cameron’s pledge of more savage cuts to welfare benefits means he has no choice but to cut working-age benefits, because the Tories have ruled out any changes to pensions and pensioner benefits.

“The Tories cannot achieve their £12bn of cuts to social security without doing so and hitting family budgets hard”, she said.

“Child benefit and tax credits are now on the ballot paper next week. Labour will protect them, and families across the country now know the Tories will cut them again.”

Reeves blamed benefit delays, sanctions and the hated bedroom tax for the increased demand on food banks.

She said Labour was the only party committed to reducing the reliance on food banks.

> But hang on… didn’t she say Labour didn’t want to be the party of the unemployed ?  And aren’t Labour promising more Workfare ?

“A Labour government would do this by axing the bedroom tax, getting rid of benefit sanctions targets and introducing protections for people with mental health problems, carers, pregnant women and people at risk of domestic violence.”

She added: “It’s inevitable, if the Tories get back in, that we will see further food bank use.”

Trussell Trust’s Adrian Curtis said: “Despite welcome signs of economic recovery, hunger continues to affect significant numbers in the UK today.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly, 04 May 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/food-bank-users-could-top-two-million-if-tories-win-election/

Greens Would Double Child Benefit And Save Disabled Persons Fund

The Green Party in government would double Child Benefit to £40 and reverse the closure of the Independent Living Fund.

Speaking at an event in Bristol, deputy leader Amelia Womack said it’s “scandalous” that families are forced to turn to food banks in the worlds sixth richest country.

“There are now 117 billionaires in the very same Britain where one in five workers earn less than a Living Wage”, she said.

Austerity hurts the most vulnerable people in society – punishing the poor and the vulnerable for the mistakes and fraud of the bankers.”

Amelia Womack said the Green Party would reverse the closure of the Independent Living Fund, which enables disabled people to live as independently as possible in their own homes – rather than residential care homes.

“Nearly 18,000 disabled people with high-support needs rely on the fund to live their lives with choice and control, rather than going into residential care or being trapped at home”, said Womack.

On 30th June the funding and responsibility of ILF care and support needs will transfer to local authorities. There is no obligation to use the money specifically for ILF.

“This cut in central Government funding puts at risk some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“Keeping the Independent Living Fund would cost around £300 million – and I’m proud to say the Green Party is committing to doing just that. We won’t stand by while this lifeline is cut away.”

She added: “But the Green Party isn’t just opposed to cuts – we believe in doing more, much more, to redistribute income within our society.

“That’s why we’re being honest about the fact that we’d increase tax for the richest in society – and it’s why we’re able to pledge that we’d double child benefit to £40 a week. For the 29% of children here in Bristol West who live in poverty, this increase will be life changing.

“It’s bold policies like these that set the Green Party apart from others. We don’t offer half-measures, or minor changes.

“In the midst of such struggle in this country, the Green Party are offering something unique: hope. We make this one very clear promise to voters: we will always stand for an economy, a society, that works for the many, not just the few.

“That means our MPs will never blame the most vulnerable for the mistakes of those at the top.

“It means that our MPs won’t go into any sort of deal with the Tories. And it means we’ll give a Labour Government a backbone – but we won’t hesitate to vote against them to ensure we’re true to our principles.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly, 28 Apr 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/greens-would-double-child-benefit-and-save-disabled-persons-fund/

Bedroom Tax Victim Forced To Live In A Tent Loses All His Toes To Frostbite

A 32 year-old homeless victim of the hated Bedroom tax had to have all his toes amputated after being forced to spend winter living in a tent, it has been reported today.

Mitchell Keenan, from Skelmsdale in West Lancashire, was rushed to hospital by family members after being discovered with severe frostbite.

Mr Mitchell and his 62 year-old father Keith were evicted from their four-bedroom home after falling behind on rent repayments, due to being hit by the government’s bedroom tax.

Keith has since been diagnosed with a range of serious health problems including scabies, dementia and malnutrition.

His sister Dawn Doyle, 54, tried to find emergency accommodation for the two men “but nowhere would take them”, she said.

Dawn told the Liverpool Echo:

“It’s absolutely outrageous what has happened to my brother and nephew.

“They lived in their home for thirty years and got into difficulty last year.

“They both have neurological conditions and disabilities and kept missing job interviews, so the problem got worse and worse.

Unable to find suitable accommodation, Dawn was eventually forced to buy her brother and nephew a tent.

Dawn says she was unable to house her relatives due to disabilities and being a single parent, but added that she had provided the men with food parcels from a local food bank.

“I felt awful that I couldn’t take them in, but I’m a single parent, with my own disabilities and I just knew I couldn’t cope.

“I tried my best for them and contacted so many different organisations, but just kept getting turned away.

“Social Services said they couldn’t come and assess them because they were in a tent – it was just farcical.

“When we saw Mitchell’s toes we were horrified, that this can happen to people in the 21st century is disgusting.”

“In July they lost their home and I tried everywhere to get them accommodation but nowhere would take them.

“The bedroom tax is an awful thing, it’s affecting people’s lives all over the country and needs to be repealed.”

West Lancashire Borough Council has now provided Mitchell Keenan with temporary accommodation, while his father Keith has been given supported housing.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said the men “continue to be supported through benefits and by jobcentre staff”.

They added: “We have given their local council hundreds of thousands of pounds to support vulnerable people through our housing benefit reforms”.

Source – Welfare Weekly, 27 Apr 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/bedroom-tax-victim-forced-to-live-in-a-tent-loses-all-his-toes-to-fostbite/