Labour lie about food banks – broadcasting that their growth has been due to the callousness of the Coalition government – I say NOT true.
Firstly, no system is perfect, as there will be bureaucracy, inefficiency and inflexibility, which is why food banks started under Labour. Since then, the DWP can point to significant improvements in performance: Benefit payment delays have fallen to about 8%, significantly better than the 14% under Labour in 2009/10). So a more efficient benefits system, but more food banks under the Coalition – why?
If fewer people are experiencing benefit delays, is there an increase in the number going hungry? OECD ‘Food Insecurity’ data suggests that figure has fallen in the UK, against the trend of rising poverty in other OECD countries.
So lower need apparently contradicted by a growth in the number of food banks, with more people asking for help. The only logical explanation is that more of those who need help are actually getting help. Is this true?
Well one massive factor, and unsurprisingly, is that Labour hide the fact that in 2008 they BANNED Job Centres from referring claimants to food banks, therefore suppressing demand in Labour’s last years in government. Was this because Labour wanted to suppress food bank use for propaganda purposes? How cynical would that be! Nasty Labour.
As food banks usually ask for evidence of real need before handing over a food parcel, referral from the DWP or GP is requested. This created a bizarre situation where people were left hungry due to Labour’s DWP own administrative failings, but Labour then obstructed those trying to sort out the mess, by denying referral.
Finally, I believe that more people have become aware of the existence of food banks because of then being politicised by the amount of airtime the media have given it over the past five years.
So where does that leave us? Anyone who has visited a food bank will have understood that most people who use them are coping with a short terms crisis, with delays in receiving benefits a huge cause of difficulties.
So what did the Coalition do? IDS lifted the ban, gaining approval from the Trussell Trust. Localism has also saw the Social Fund having switched from the DWP to local councils. The average time for processing a Social Fund payment was 10-12 days now the average processing time is one day.
Food banks are part of the Big Society, and should be independent of government. Those who donate to them and volunteer for them are local heroes. Unless anyone can come up with a better idea, and until we find a perfect benefit system to consistently help those in need, long may food banks continue.
Increases in the minimum wage, higher employment, higher tax free limits, lower inflation are other examples of how things have improved and a Conservative government WILL continue to deliver.
Thanks to http://bit.ly/1Q22vfk for inspiring this post.