Wednesday 5 September 2012

The Return Of Hunger

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.

Pic: Guy Smallman


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%”

Newsnight item on food banks (starts 26:26)

Jobs Not Sanctions

Protest Called By Unite Community London

Wednesday 12th September from 9am

Department of Work and Pensions

Caxton House

Tothill Street

London SW1H 9NA




  1. Steven said:

    What a total disgrace! I will admit I have voted Tory in the past (mainly because they are stricter on immigration than Labour or the Liberals) but I have never endorsed their vindictive and nasty attitudes towards the poor and the vunerable in our society. Under Cameron and Iain Dumbo-Smith these dispicable attitudes have become worse than ever. I stopped voting Tory when Major became PM. Cameron is definitely the most cruel and vicious Tory PM ever and he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. He needs to stop his constant attacks on the poor. Previous ‘Old Etonian’ Tory PM’s like Macmillian and Eden wouldn’t have stooped as low as he has done and neither would Mrs Thatcher. Though I don’t support Labour, I would wish this government either changes its attitudes or calls a general election so we the decent people of Britain can get rid of this unelected and cruel shambles of a government.

    5 September 2012 at 12:18pm
  2. Jane said:

    As a single parent on jobseekers allowance, I have to attend an A4e work programme, and I have been lied to, talked down to, and insulted. I am trying desperately to get a job that means Ill be as well off as on benefits and with hours that require little childcare. IMPOSSIBLE. I have various qualifications, and a Degree, I would be better off working part time at McDonalds and be stress free excepting child care, I might do it. This Government is turning educated people into wastrels with its high handed attitude. I cant wait until the election.

    19 September 2012 at 6:27pm

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