Last night’s Newsnight reported on one of the most shocking consequences of this Government’s austerity measures and in particular their attacks on welfare.
In 2007, food banks fed around 14,000 people in the UK.
Last year 130,000 were fed at food banks and by 2013 that figure is expected to leap to 200,000.
There are at least three food banks opening every week.
43% of those that ask for help from food banks do so because of problems with their benefits, mostly sanctions.
Benefit sanctions, where the DWP stop or reduce benefits for a period as a punishment for a ‘failure’ to adhere to an instruction (e.g. being more than a minute late for an interview, failing to complete a job diary satisfactorily,etc) have also increased massively.
In 2009, 139,000 claimants were sanctioned. By 2011, this had trebled to 508,000 and just in the first 3 months of this year, sanctions have been imposed on 167,000.
The Tories’ Workfare schemes, providing the unemployed with the “choice” of working unpaid or losing their benefits, has contributed to many of these sanctions.
110,000 recommendations to sanction claimants have come from welfare-to-work firms such as A4e. These firms are paid to provide unemployed labour for workfare schemes.
Disgracefully, David Cameron’s ex-speech-writer Danny Kruger blamed this crisis on households building up “unsustainable levels of private debt”.
Labour MP Stella Creasy correctly pointed out that ordinary people were not borrowing money for luxuries but for basics.
Chris Mould, Director of the Trussell Trust that runs food banks, added that :
“People on low incomes have been suffering a flat-lining for years. People depending on tax credits and benefits have not had those raised anything like sufficient to deal with food price rises. Oxfam’s research shows that in the last 5 years, food prices have risen by 30.5%”
Jobs Not Sanctions
Protest Called By Unite Community London
Wednesday 12th September from 9am
Department of Work and Pensions
London SW1H 9NA