> Yes, you did read that headline correctly…
A broken benefits system is causing people to turn to food banks, an aspiring Conservative politician has said.
In comments more normally seen from Labour politicans, Berwick Tory Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said the number of people needing handouts to eat may be as a result of changes to the benefits system.
Mrs Trevelyan is bidding to take the seat from Sir Alan Beith when the Liberal Democrat steps down in 2015.
Much of her campaign has focused on the jobs potential of dualling the A1 north of Newcastle.
But last night she said that after visiting a Northumberland food bank, the evidence put to her was that those dependant upon benefits were suffering the result of changes to the system.
The Conservative-led coalition Government has come in for criticism from a variety of sources over its cuts to benefits.
Reductions in benefits have been criticised as indiscriminate while changes to the way benefits are handed out has seen delays as a result.
Mrs Trevelyan said: “All users of food banks in Northumberland have been referred by social services, Citizens Advice Bureaux or other groups like Sure Start. The reasons given are often delays in benefits being paid or other financial pressures leaving families with no money to buy food.
“I am concerned by the recurring message from the volunteers who run our local food banks, that the majority of those who come to them do so because the benefits payment system is not working.
“It should be there to support those who need a safety net while they find work or arrange long term support.
“There seems to be a serious breakdown in the effective management of the payments system. I am going to be talking in more detail with our job centre teams to try to find out what they need to solve this issue effectively.”
> Oh bugger – don’t ask them ! They’re a major part of the problem.
The Conservative candidate said that a rapid rise in the number of food banks began under Labour in 2006 when there were 3,000 nationally. This rose to more than 40,000 by 2010.
In addition to this leading food bank provider the Trussell Trust has been expanding, inevitably leading to more hard-pressed families making use of their services.
Mrs Trevelyan’s comments are similar to many of those expressed by Northern Labour MPs, though of a far less critical nature.
Also adding their concerns to the growing number of food banks was former Bishop of Durham Justin Welby. Now Archbishop of Canterbury, he has called for a greater level of awareness from the Government on the causes behind the growing number of food banks in the UK.
Senior Tories have tried to play down the rise of food banks.
Education Secretary Michael Gove came under fire for saying that financial mismanagement was the reason many people were going to food banks.
And Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, the man ultimately responsible for changes to the benefit system, refused to meet the Trussell Trust and accused it of being politically motivated.
Source – Newcastle Journal 15 Feb 2014
A labour peer has come up with a unique way to spend Newcastle United’s money on a greater good.
In the week when the club have pocketed more than £20m from the sale of Yohan Cabaye, former Newcastle Council leader Jeremy Beecham has said owner Mike Ashley should consider making a donation to local food banks.
Lord Beecham has suggested the club might like to consider donating £1 from each matchday ticket sold to local causes, including the food banks popping up across the city.
The peer said it would be a welcome sign from Newcastle United and club sponsor Wonga that they are committed to the city.
He said: “Along with around 50,000 United fans, I’ll be at St James’ Park on Saturday hoping to see United beat Sunderland. Too many people today have to rely on food banks to feed themselves and their families. Food banks rely on the generosity of many individuals and organisations who donate food or cash.
“Wouldn’t it be great if Newcastle United and their sponsors donated just £1 per head out of the ticket income for Saturday’s derby match, in the week when the club receives £25m for Yohan Cabaye? It would be a fraction of the weekly wage bill. I hope on Saturday afternoon we can celebrate a United victory and a generous response from the club to this request.”
Food banks in Tyneside have reported growing demands for their goods, with many now having to make wider appeals for food stuffs. The Newcastle West End Food Bank says it helped provide 10,000 meals last year alone. It has now teamed up with bakers Greggs to help provide more food for hard up families in the city.
Newcastle United did not comment.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle 30 Jan 2014