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Food bank use linked to sanctions and benefit cuts, British Medical Journal reports

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has this week published a report by Oxford academics claiming to demonstrate a link between food bank use and benefits sanctions and cuts. The link has been consistently denied by Coalition ministers, who have refused to commission research into the issue.

According to the report’s authors expansion of food banks across the United Kingdom is unprecedented—the number of local authorities with food banks operated by the Trussell Trust has risen from 29 in 2009-10 to 251 in 2013-14.

In addition the highest levels of food bank use have occurred where there have been the highest rates of sanctioning, unemployment, and cuts in central welfare spending.

The authors found that food banks were more likely to open in local authorities with higher unemployment rates, whereas the share of the population reporting Christian faith was not associated with food banks opening. In other words, economic factors, rather than church-based charitable urges are the main driver of food banks opening, contrary to the claims of some commentators.

Clearly the Coalition will continue to refuse to hold any sort of inquiry into the extraordinary rise in food bank use and will steadfastly deny that food banks are in any way linked to government policy. But there can be very few people in the UK who seriously believe this, as report after report suggests otherwise.

You can read the report ‘Austerity, sanctions and the rise of food banks in the UK’ on the BMJ website.

Comments  

#12 Allen 2015-04-15 11:29
Our church runs a food bank and we are looking for bigger premises as we can't cope with the amount of people at times who come to us. Its an absolute disgrace the way this Govt treats people. We have folk from all sorts of backgrounds come for help and the biggest reason given by our clients are sanctions and reductions or delays to benefits
+1 #11 bobingalong 2015-04-13 15:44
The government doesn't want you to see this.
https://www.youtube.com/user/38DegreesTV
+4 #10 angela 2015-04-12 15:54
Why is it this goverment wont listern to the people that are running these food banks these are the people that know the true number of people that are comming though the doors
+4 #9 tintack 2015-04-12 14:58
Apparently the "eye-catching" policy in the Tory manifesto will be raising the inheritance tax threshold to £1million. This, we are told, is about "values", which is technically true - it's the value system which says giving more to those who already have most is right, and if that involves kicking the poor into a ditch, well that's fine.

The Tories have also been making quite a few unfunded spending commitments - on the NHS, rail ticket prices and their ludicrous policy of three days paid leave to volunteer. Oddly enough, this is the same party which loves to accuse other parties of making unfunded commitments while preening itself on its economic "credibility".

I think we can now see what another Tory government will do: taxes for the rich will be cut even further, and this will be paid for by the £12billion benefit cut - which is of course another policy they either can't or (more likely) won't give details of. So it's yet more redistribution from the poor to the rich. Any party which proposes the reverse is, of course, always accused of "class war".
+6 #8 carruthers 2015-04-12 04:36
Quoting Just Me:
Duh of course this governments policies have been causing this huge rise in food bank use. I mean did they really need a bunch of academics to work that one out? Good grief.

The propaganda must be really working If they couldn't work that one out without resorting to research.

We don't need "a bunch of academics" in order to repeat the allegation that government policy is causing the rise in foodbank use. What we do need academic research for is:

a] to establish that there has been a rise in foodbank use - and exactly how big it is. Simply saying "there's lots more" is no basis for policy-making or for nailing lies.

b] to give a good statistical basis to the sanctions-foodb ank link. This means that when people repeat that "foodbanks are just a sign that scroungers want free food" lie, we can point to the facts about real destitution, established by independent experts.

c] to show that the problem has got worse - not that the increased number of foodbanks shows only that supporters of foodbanks have got more generous. Or, in economic terms, that the rise in foodbank numbers is demand-led, not supply-led.

d] to show that the points made by people like us are not just a case of "special pleading". In other words that academics who are not hungry, or jobless or sick can investigate these issues and come up facts and figures and conclusions which prove us right.
+5 #7 Frogman9 2015-04-11 17:13
Food banks this time around ..if the Tories get in again it will be soup kitchens next.
+3 #6 tintack 2015-04-10 20:13
Quoting Bill:
Am I the only one wondering why I haven't heard any questions raised about food banks so far in the Election Campaign?

Is this not a matter that should be brought up by at least one of the many Opposition Parties?

What has Great Britain come to when this is accepted as 'normal' ?

Bill


Cameron was asked about food banks, I think it was in the first (non) debate with Paxman. Needless to say, he wriggled like an eel.

Like you, I also hope it gets highlighted in the rest of the campaign. Likewise the £12billion benefit cuts - the Tories have made it clear they won't give any details before the election, so I hope Labour go after them and accuse them of planning to cut disability benefits and Carers Allowance, as the leaked document said. If the Tories say that such accusations are just scaremongering, Labour should challenge them to rule out such cuts categorically. If they won't rule them out, Labour can leave the electorate to draw its own conclusions. Even an electorate which has been bombarded with anti-claimant propaganda is likely to think twice if they think even carers would be hit. There could hardly be anything more likely to reinforce the "nasty party" image.
+4 #5 tintack 2015-04-10 20:05
Quoting Just Me:
Duh of course this governments policies have been causing this huge rise in food bank use. I mean did they really need a bunch of academics to work that one out? Good grief.

The propaganda must be really working If they couldn't work that one out without resorting to research.


They probably knew it already, but given the Tories' insistence on denying the blatantly obvious, in the manner of a 5 year old sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting "la la la, I'm not listening!", it doesn't hurt to have a properly researched document on the subject. Not that the Tory press are likely to mention it of course, but if the subject of food banks does come up during the campaign, it might be harder for the Tories to dismiss.
+2 #4 angela 2015-04-10 19:47
Its not news any more no body wants to print the story any more run its course part of every day life
+3 #3 naheegan 2015-04-10 18:13
I don't believe that food banks are thought of as 'normal' in the UK.
Possibly those who are not in a position to need or use them give them much thought, except to plunk a few tins into the collection boxes at their local supermarket; after feeling socially-contri buting, there's likely not much thought about it.

As far as the election campaign(s) and the topic being raised, it has been by some interviewers, but the topic is sidestepped quite slickly by the politician being interviewed, or the tired mantra 'I don't accept that' dusted off and inserted in place of a response.

This election is very sanitised; the staged photo ops, the exclusion of the poor from rally-type gatherings (pre-screened and pre-paid, only), the questions and topics on the agenda carefully choreographed. The issues of growing poverty, hunger/starvati on/malnutrition , homelessness, and their despair and suffering or deaths, even, are surgically excised from the election conversation.
I believe it's intentional.
But I also believe that if every claimant and everyone negatively affected by the welfare reforms and continuing austerity were to actually vote for an alternative, things could and would change.
+5 #2 Bill 2015-04-10 16:55
Am I the only one wondering why I haven't heard any questions raised about food banks so far in the Election Campaign?

Is this not a matter that should be brought up by at least one of the many Opposition Parties?

What has Great Britain come to when this is accepted as 'normal' ?

Bill
+1 #1 Just Me 2015-04-10 15:16
Duh of course this governments policies have been causing this huge rise in food bank use. I mean did they really need a bunch of academics to work that one out? Good grief.

The propaganda must be really working If they couldn't work that one out without resorting to research.

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