Wednesday, 12 June 2013
Food Poverty - We are sleep walking back to Dickensian times says Roger
Roger has tabled an Early Day Motion 223 today which draws attention to the growing pressure on the nations already over stretched food banks. Early day motion 223 FOOD BANKS AND FOOD POVERTY Primary sponsor: Godsiff, Roger Sponsors: Durkan, Mark That this House views with the gravest concern the recent report by the Trussell Trust, the biggest provider of food banks in the UK, that more than 350,000 people turned to their food banks for help in 2012-13, almost triple the number who received food aid in the previous year and 100,000 more than anticipated; believes that estimates put the true figure of those receiving food aid in 2012 at nearer 500,000 when other independent food banks, churches, charities and community groups are taken into account; understands that to meet the sustained demand for emergency food supplies, the Trust itself launched almost 150 new food banks in the last year and is currently approving three new food banks a week; notes that the Trust's own research suggests that, nationally, 45 per cent of all referrals are as a result of benefits problems which include benefit delay (30 per cent) and benefit changes (15 per cent); further notes that a significant causal factor is most likely to be the rising tide of the draconian regime of benefit sanctions leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale; further believes that this level of food poverty, which shows every sign of growing as further changes to the benefits system take effect, is wholly detrimental to the social fabric of the UK, further marginalising, as it does, the poor, the unemployed and already socially disadvantaged and is incompatible with the functioning of a modern, compassionate society; and calls on both the Government and the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee to conduct an urgent inquiry into the relationship between benefit delay, error or sanctions, welfare reform changes and the growth of food poverty. Roger believes that a significant causal factor is likely to be the rising tide of draconian benefit sanctions although at the present time there is only anecdotal evidence to support this and rising levels of complaints from constituents. He commented: “There is every indication that levels of food poverty show every sign of growing as further changes to the benefits system take effect. Such developments, I believe, are wholly detrimental to the social fabric of the UK, further marginalising the poor, the unemployed and already socially disadvantaged and are incompatible with the functioning of a modern, compassionate society. I have called on the government to launch an urgent enquiry into causes of food poverty, particularly in respect of the administrative failure of the Dept of Work & Pensions (DWP) to deliver benefits effectively and its widespread use of punitive benefit sanctions. The DWP is never backward in reminding us all repeatedly how much money it is managing to save the UK taxpayer but wouldn’t it be nice if it actually got the money that people are entitled to distributed before they had to visit their local food bank.