Nick Clegg has called for a rethink of the way the benefit sanctions regime is administered in the wake of a cross-party report endorsed by the archbishop of Canterbury that suggests the penalties are partly to blame for the growing use of food banks in the UK.
The report calls for a new national organisation, Feeding Britain, run jointly by the government and voluntary groups, to oversee food banks and eradicate hunger. It also urges food companies to do more to tackle waste and proposes a rise in the minimum wage.
Conservative MPs said the plan smacked of nationalisation, and the business minister Matthew Hancock said the growth in food banks was partly because they were now more widely known about.
Clegg said on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: “There is some evidence that people who are subject to benefit sanctions end up using food banks for a temporary period of time. I think that while it is, of course, necessary to have sanctions in the benefit system, I think we should introduce a traffic light system so that some of the sanctions are not imposed quite as overnight as they sometimes are. That might help alleviate some of the problem.”