Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Report on Hunger in Britain: Doing Porridge.

Being Poor: Doing Porridge.

“A Conservative peer has sparked a torrent of criticism after claiming that poor people use food banks because they don’t know how to cook, in the wake of news that the number of people unable to afford their own food is soaring.

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington made the remarks while launching a major report that showed that 4 million people are going hungry in Britain.

While launching the report, Baroness Jenkin said: “We have lost our cooking skills. Poor people don’t know how to cook.

“I had a large bowl of porridge today, which cost 4p,” Mail Online reported Baroness Jenkin as saying. “A large bowl of sugary cereals will cost you 25p.”

The Independent reports in more detail,

Feeding Britain, by the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the UK, is careful to avoid party politics, and so does not mention cuts to the welfare system introduced by the present Government, such as the “bedroom tax” – but it is scathing about the alleged inefficiency of the Department for Work and Pensions. “Our evidence shows that the present [welfare] system is cumbersome, complicated and fails to respond effectively,” the report says. “We heard that personal documents including birth certificates and medical records sent as part of an application for benefit had gone missing within the department.”

The inquiry team also criticises the way sanctions are imposed for some claimants who unintentionally fail to follow the rules. While it acknowledges there are people who cheat the system, others have been punished because they did not understand the rules, or for trivial reasons – including one man sanctioned for writing on the wrong side of a form.

The report criticises the way the poor are made to pay more for other basic necessities, such as electricity, through pre-payment meters, because they cannot afford the direct debit payments that the better-off use to reduce their bills. The authors heard evidence that people can be charged up to 41p a minute for calls to their utility companies, or the Work and Pensions department, if they have a query about their bills or benefits.

The central objective of the report is to offer “a series of immediate and long-term reforms which would ensure that every individual and household in this country has adequate resources, facilities and abilities to purchase, prepare and cook fresh, healthy and affordable food

On Channel Four News last night one of the two speakers on the report (the bloke on the right in the link at the bottom here) kept saying that Food Banks offer a “personalised” way of helping people. Much better apparently than the “bureaucratic ” welfare state. Apparently being forced to go cap in hand to  Charity, often run by religious groups, is better than having rights.The woman in the debate (on the right) pointed to the simple fact that it was benefit sanctions that caused the major part of the demand for Food Banks.

If they offer some help to the growth of Charity – and people’s dependence on the Good Will of those running Food Banks – what do they say on these Benefit Sanctions?

This is what Feeding Britain: A Strategy for Zero Hunger in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland recommends.

Benefit Sanctions (58 – 63).

We strongly welcome the Government’s decision to accept in full the recommendations made by Matthew Oakley’s independent review into sanctions for claimants failing to take part in back to work schemes. We accordingly call on the Government to extend these measures to cover all Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, as we have identified similar problems arising across the board, with sanctions sometimes resulting from a poor understanding of the system, rather than a wilful disregard of the requirements placed on claimants

We recommend that the Government make clear in guidance that a sanction decision is only lawful if letters are sent,and can be proven to have been received,to the claimant explaining the reason that a sanction is being imposed (including dates,what the failure was, and why there isn’tgood cause), the period the sanction will apply for, and whether Hardship Payments may be granted, and if not, why not.

We recommend that, in cases where sanctions are applied, the Department for Work and Pensions should require that claimants be immediately informed of their right to appeal the decision, and provided with the necessary documentation to do so.We recommend that Jobcentre Plus  staff should be able to exercise their own discretion as to whether a requirement was missed through error or circumstances beyond the claimant’s control, and should be able to recommend that sanctions are not implemented on these occasions.

We believe claimants should be given a‘Yellow Card’ warning with the chance to provide an explanation for a first offence, and perhaps being given additional  requirements to be met, before a sanction is applied.

We recommend that once a sanction has been applied, Jobcentre Plus should promptly advise the claimant to contact their Local Authority, or make contact themselves, to tell their opposite number of the reduction of income of a claimant and their right to continue to claim other benefits. In this way there should be no disruption to Housing Benefit Payments and/or Council Tax support.

This  shows a willingness to to thinker with the system, not really change it.

It does not remove the almost unlimited capacity for the DWP to demand the claimants carry out any actions they deem necessary to look for employment.

It sets no guidance for removing unreasonable  obligations.

It leaves power in the hands of the DWP and its ‘job coaches.

It offers a patronising system of “yellow card” warnings for the naughty claimants.

It does not even mention the cuts to benefits, and extra charges (such as the Council Tax) this government has lumbered us with.

There is no indication of the need to increase benefits to meet the rise in food and utility prices – which they also indicate are a major cause of food poverty.

The report is simply not up to the job.

47 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on sdbast.


    December 9, 2014 at 1:41 pm

  2. Skills shortages holding back the UK’s economic recovery



    Do you realize that in the time the tories have been in government, that they could have trained and qualified all claimants for near every position the sectors say their short in ?

    Instead they removed concessions from courses and thus cutting off access and take up to study in sectors such as construction, engineering, teaching, etc. They then replaced it with the 24 plus advanced ,earners loan meaning claimants needed to take on debt if they wished to pursue a path back into work by qualifying for sectors who are well short of skilled workers.

    (Note:- warehouse, hospitality and retail are not suffering skill shortages so why are we still flogging them to claimants and the youth)?

    To add insult to injury, our government kept installed a clause in unemployment benefit that if you receive an offer of work, you must give up the course even though you’ve acquired a debt in the process. If you refuse to except these terms, your benefit is withdrawn for the duration of the course.

    As you can imagine, the take up bar apprenticeships that in themselves discriminate against those over 24 (employers cant get public funding so ignore this age group) is near rock bottom. The result is that skills gaps have widened enough to cause major concern for business an the economical outlook.

    Worthy of note is that CSCS cards were changed in how people acquire them from the 1st of July this year. To date unless corrected, DWP no longer fund claimants getting them and thus dealing a further blow to the construction industry and thus the building of houses badly needed by the UK public.

    If this government want to invest in the country, then hadn’t they best invest in its people first?


    December 9, 2014 at 2:04 pm

  3. Food banks: Duncan Smith promises positive response after critical report.

    Work and pensions secretary promises reforms to help stop people ‘stumbling into’ process of benefits sanctions.

    Iain Duncan Smith has promised to respond positively to a Church of England-backed report on the spread of food banks in the UK, saying he was looking at how sanctioned claimants that lose jobseeker’s allowance need not lose housing benefit as well.

    The work and pensions secretary told MPs: “We want to do everything we can to make sure that people do not stumble into a process of sanctions” – the loss of benefits entitlement that is one of the most common reasons that people use food banks.

    Duncan Smith also announced that Department for Work and Pensions staff were to be sent new advice that they must constantly inform claimants that short-term cash advances are available to people before their benefit claims are processed.

    Striking a conciliatory tone in response to the highly critical report supported by the archbishop of Canterbury, the cabinet minister said that fresh guidance would be sent to 700 job centres in a move that was welcomed by the cross-party inquiry into food banks in the UK.

    The report from the all-party food banks inquiry – released over the weekend – contains numerous examples of claimants being unaware that they are about to be sanctioned or being sanctioned arbitrarily.

    The minister was speaking in the Commons hours after a Conservative peer on the inquiry had declared that one of the principal causes of food poverty was that “poor people do not know how to cook”.

    Lady Jenkin later apologised for words she said were badly chosen, and told the BBC: “What I meant was as a society we have lost our ability to cook. That seems no longer to be handed down in the way that it was by previous generations.”

    Duncan Smith said he would respond positively to what he described as a serious report, and said that ministers took their responsibility to do whatever it takes to make sure that far fewer people need to go to food banks.

    Frank Field, the co-chair of the inquiry said Duncan Smith’s announcements were enormously welcome, adding: “It is vital both that emergency payments are made available and that they are actively publicised to prevent the need for using a food bank.”

    Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pension secretary, had said food banks were a symbol of the coalition government’s welfare waste.



    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    • In other words,

      “On my honour, I promise that I will do my best
      To do my duty to God and to the Queen,
      To help other people
      And to keep the Scout Law.”

      Andrew Coates

      December 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm

  4. Danny Alexander:

    Liberal Democrats have no part in Tory plans for harsh cuts and empty tax promises.

    Post 2017-18, the difference is even starker. The Tories want to keep on making cuts, running growing surpluses year after year, way beyond what is required to balance the books.



    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    • The horse has already bolted.

      Any of these politicians can waffle all they like as the road ahead is more than clear, it actually comes with lit directional signage.

      With 1.47 Trillion Debt (1,470,000,000,000) which if you include all liabilities is actually around 5 trillion, the interest payments that come with it, a bad annual deficit and a whole planet sharing the same financial boat, where would one start ?

      Any successful country would naturally make more revenue than they spend on public funded services so without knowing precisely what its for I would have to say Danny boys being a bit premature unless of course he knows something we don’t, in which case spit it out lad or get lost.

      From the outset post 2007, we should have had irrespective of party a 2 decade plan and not one set by the election clock. Osborne, even Jesus was never going to get us out of the hole in 5 years, it was never going to happen and now you know it didn’t happen.

      What you all witnessed over this entire tory governance was shimmering shifts, you know like the ones you see in the distance on a hot day, the one you walk up to yet appears as nothing on arrival. Well the lights still being bent, just not from your new perspective and this next bit i particularly like is, the brain instantly losses interest in the thought as though it wasn’t their in the first place.

      2015 post elections will bring tough times to come no matter what politicians say now or who you vote.


      December 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm

  5. We’re being too harsh on the poor Baroness. Unlike Marie Antoinette who thought we should be eating cake, her Ladyship has our welfare at heart. She realises that cakes are full of sugar, salt, fats and other nasties and the last thing an overpriviledged Tory peer from Kennington, one of London’s wealthiest areas, wants is for the “lower orders” to become unhealthy. After all, she appreciates we have to be fighting fit in order to survive (or not, as the case may be) all the draconian cuts her beloved Chancellor is about to inflict upon us.
    Gawd bless yer Ma’am.

    I’m off now to serve myself up a nice scrumptious bowl of 4p porridge. Yummy.


    December 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    • I like porridge and eat it regularly (though unlike my Scottish dad, I prefer sugar to salt on it) – so I am fighting fit!

      Andrew Coates

      December 9, 2014 at 4:38 pm

  6. Well said GAIA, at least you and a few others can see through the deceptiion and spin of this clapped out feeble minded Government, when are people going to wake up to the fact that this lot want things to continue just the way they are , Why ? Because many of them hold shares in the likes of A4E , Maximus and other so called providers, they are effectively diverting public funds into their own Bank accounts and Sacrificing the future of most of the Youth of our Nation in the process.
    They never have been serious about training up anybody to do anything.
    You are completely correct in saying the current benefit system succeeds in DESKILLING the work force.
    They are currently scrambling about desperately trying to find a solution to their own folly by sending deligations of civil servants and officials to Germany to find out how they do things there, just one word of advice chaps ; Your Fourty Years to Late.

    David Anthony Penson
    Bracknell Berkshire.

    David Anthony Penson

    December 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm

  7. Set in a jobcentre a disturbing fact-based thriller based on a true story which explores the extreme things people will do when under the instructions of an authority figure. Contains scenes of coercion and humiliation that may offend.

    Compliance – Flim 4 – 9th December (tonight) 23:15 – 01:00 – (Freeview 15)

    May contain content that will offend.

    Film 4

    December 9, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    • Hey G$S goon, my name is Officer Daniels… I am a Police Officer….you can call me Sir or Officer…. got that meathead…. “Yes, Sir”… you see that adviser over there…. I need you to do a strip search on her… we really need to find those missing benefit payments… now, you listen up meathead… or I will report you to a floor manager… you need to take her clothes off…. what type of panties is she wearing…. “cotton bikini, Sir”…. yeah, you will need to take them off… “Yes, Sir”… you see anything… “No, Sir”… now I need you to turn her around and tell her to bend over… that missing benefit payments could be hidden up there…. you see anything… “Nope, Sir”… Hmm, benefit payments are easy to conceal…. now, I need you to tell her to do jumping jacks, shake that money out…. “Yes, Sir”… now I need you to put her over your lap and spank her real hard… you got that meathead… “Yes, Sir”…. 😀

      Officer Daniels

      December 10, 2014 at 8:15 am

  8. Yill no be dining oan oor purrridge ya saft suthern’ safties!

    McPurridge O' the McPurrridge Clan

    December 9, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    • och eye the noo you caber tossin eejet. getaway bach too the highlands widya

      Southern Sofftie

      December 10, 2014 at 8:31 am

  9. Who left Emma with no money for food and heat? Who sanctioned Andrew into destitution? Who made Johnny homeless? The Salvation Army fucking did!

    Tell these c***s to shove their fucking Christmas Appeal up their fucking arse.

    The Salvation Army Christmas Appeal

    December 9, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    • You shouldn’t be giving this shit publicity, Ted… it’s a SCAM!!


      December 10, 2014 at 8:23 am

      • … or you should give it a go yourself… 😉


        December 10, 2014 at 8:24 am

    • A jobseeker with an ebay account…. 😉 …. Invitation to an Interview Under Caution here we come… 🙂

      DWP Counter Fraud

      December 10, 2014 at 8:28 am

      • Why do you think that when using U.J.M you are asked for your email account and NOT your user number. You do need a primary email account and ebay Facebook Twitter is what they are looking for. Also any links you may have to other accounts.


        December 10, 2014 at 11:41 am

      • Yeah, it’s like passwords, peeps use the same old email for everything…. personal, friends/family, universal jobmatch, ebay, facebook, twitter… it’s a gift to the dwp/cops.

        Security Expert

        December 10, 2014 at 10:35 pm




    December 10, 2014 at 10:18 am

    • I don’t suppose someone can upload this DWP psychometric test so I can look at it ?


      December 10, 2014 at 10:36 am

      • The domain where the test was hosted expired on 17th Nov Gaia. It gave the same result whatever answers you ticked or didn’t. Yep, you could go through it without answering and get the same result as someone who complied.

        http://behaviourlibrary.com/?nr=0 gone and best forgotten.


        December 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

      • That’s a shame but thanks for replying anyway Lucy, much appreciated.


        December 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

      • Lucy, you beat me to it – I’ve just been to that redundant site!

        I remembered there was an online version around some time ago, but originally it did not matter how you answered the questions – the results were always the same!!


        It is particularly disturbing that coercion was involved – if you don’t do it, we’ll sanction you.

        But, like the more recent “segmentation survey” and “attitude test”, the matter of CONSENT is required, as as far as I understand it, consent cannot be coerced.


        December 10, 2014 at 11:17 am

      • it looks to be replicated here in this video.


        December 13, 2014 at 10:17 am

  11. Claimant ‘treated like scrounger’

    MSPs have heard how people with mental health problems were made to feel like “scroungers” by those working in the welfare system.

    One former claimant told Holyrood’s Welfare Reform Committee that the process of claiming benefits made his depression and anxiety worse while another described the agency tasked with carrying out disability assessments as “like the Gestapo”.

    The committee was taking evidence from benefit recipients John Lindsay and James Nisbet about their experience of welfare reform and its impact on their mental health.

    “Every time I went to the Jobcentre I was talked down to like I was a scrounger, like I wasn’t interested in finding work,” he said.

    “I kept seeing staff talking to customers in a totally disrespectful way.

    “I also kept hearing about people getting sanctioned for silly reasons and I was aware of the powers the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) had to sanction people.

    “Every time I went in to the Jobcentre I thought I was going to be sanctioned, this made my anxiety and depression hit the roof.”

    Mr Nisbet told MSPs that the welfare system “does not have a clue” how to deal with people with mental health problems.

    “I went into a deeper depression because of the way I was treated and I don’t want to go through that again,” he said.

    He said he had been “threatened with sanctions” as soon as he attended a meeting at the Jobcentre and claimed that Atos, the agency tasked with carrying out assessments of fitness to work, were “like the Gestapo”, Nazi Germany’s feared secret police.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 10, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    • Dont tell me about it,its gone totally crazy.its as if someone claiming benefits are the cause of all this,its ridiculous. the country has entirely itself to blame.

      Baroness jenkin who last week,none had even heard of,born with a silver spoon in her mouth,blasts out typical Tory clap trap,cannot shouldn’t be surprised at the derision.

      “If this government want to invest in the country, then hadn’t they best invest in its people first?”

      Its always been the same here,”investment” costs money,hiring skilled people from eastern europe is now the main. idiots turning their back in the european parliament for the cameras’ are not defending or creating one british job,instead making the country the laughing stock.


      December 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm

  12. How low can this government get in its treatment of the poor and the sick?

    Is the following example the nasty nadir of Tory ideology – employee on zero-hours contract gives birth in Sports Direct store toilet on New Year’s Day:


    December 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm

  13. The DWP has been the most successful government department in UK history since the Workhouse and New Poor Law in creating starvation.

    The sole purpose is to end the welfare state, that was not created by the Tories and Liberals (now called Lib Dems). Osdborne has said this with his Autumn Budget, with the state spending returning to levels of the 1930s before the 1945 welfare state.

    The state pension is always put inside welfare spending, when the National Insurance Fund is now proved to be full and the state pension denied payout at 60 to women since 2013 (and men from 65 to 66 so losing a couple 7 years of payout)
    is being called a surplus and sitting pretty in the Fund. All of it.

    You pay 12 per cent of your wage per year to contribution into the NI Fund, plus your boss’s equally compulsory contributions.

    The flat rate pension, by the raised retirement age for women born from 1953 and men born from 1951, is more about the END OF THE STATE PENSION, that is the sole food and fuel money for huge numbers of people, so leaving the old back as in Victorian days, in penniless starvation.

    So not paying the state pension has not saved the state a penny, but added to those going hungry as half the over 60s not getting a state pension now are within the working poor, on low wages below able to afford to heat or eat, and the majority reason over 60s not in work is due to disability / chronic illness and htose benefits being lost.

    Even to pensioner War Veterans who are disabled from the second world war.
    Joining the modern war veterans who are losing disability money.
    And the disabled amongst the 2.6 million pensioners who far far below the breadline or barely on it.

    Someone turning 80 in 2016 will not get the tiny top up to the part basic state pension.

    All ages, from kids to grandparents are under attack from government, who are taking the non paid out state pension from general taxation as an 11 per cent pay rise.

    The politicians cannot take the so-called surplus from the National Insurance Fund for their pay rise, as it is ring fenced by law for only the unemployment benefit, a bit for the NHS (bulk from general tax) and for the state pension.

    So politicians get their works pension still at 60 for women MPs and a pay rise of 11 per cent in 2015 on the taxpayer, whilst pensioners short of a state pension since 2013 lose their rightful money sitting in a full National Insurance Fund.


    December 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    • I honestly think that many Tories simply hate poor people, or would prefer them – us – to be the objects of Charity (where the givers of Charity could get credit for their good works) than for us to have rights and welfare.

      Andrew Coates

      December 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      • Andrew

        I agree. Alms to the poor might be a conscience escape clause for some, but Biblical Charity (meaning “Loving” – based on the Greek “Philos”) will not get you to heaven.

        Remember the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in which the strictly religious Pharisee boasts (to God) of his many good religious works – including giving to the poor. But the Publican, a hated tax-collector, dispensed with all the religious mummery, and effectively pleaded “not-guiltless” to the charged of sin by simply asking for God’s mercy.

        The vile publican (in man’s eyes) was the one who was Justified – by Faith Alone!!!



        December 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm


    Meanwhile, there ARE sanctions targets at the DWP via the Stricter Benefit Regime (SBA):



    December 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm

  15. Do not tell the sanction centre that you have internet access at home otherwise they will expect you to log into that universal jobmatch shite 7 DAYS a fucking week!

    Work Plan Booklet - what am I all about?

    December 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    • I am unable to even log-in to UJM on my computer(s), it doesn’t work!

      Landless Peasant

      December 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm

  16. “a. In a virtually-empty House of Commons, a handful of MPs stood up to oppose the cheap-work conservatives on the front bench, with a Labour Whip instructing party MPs to let the workfare bill pass, and cheat thousands of the poorest people in the UK out of the money the courts had ruled they were due.”



    December 10, 2014 at 9:32 pm

  17. Radio Scotland tweets: This morning Louise will be joined by Steve Webb, Minister for Pensions. Call with your questions on 0500 92 95 00
    Radio Scotland promotion
    Listen to the show from 08:50. (today)

    BBC Scotland

    December 11, 2014 at 8:31 am

    • Minister for Department of Work and Pensions… one of IDS’s lackeys.

      BBC Scotland

      December 11, 2014 at 8:33 am

    • .. this will be like trying to get through to Swap Shop 😀


      December 11, 2014 at 8:46 am

      • 🙂

        Noel Edmonds

        December 11, 2014 at 8:48 am

    • Aye, n we will no be taking calls fae Sassanachs. Oan yir bikes!

      McHaggis O' the McHaggis Clan

      December 11, 2014 at 8:55 am

  18. Cameron on his recent visit to Auschwitz:


    Someone should have reminded DC that his Work and Pensions Secretary has already claimed to make people free!

    The German word “Arbeitsscheu” should also have been mentioned to DC. The Arbeitsscheu (workshy) were made to wear a black triangle on top of their striped uniforms, but some of them had a bar underneath the black triangle to indicate they were “returners” – ie people sent back to the concentration camps for another spell of detention. Obviously, their first spell of forced labour did not make them free – just as it does not make MWA and CWP victims free from poverty in this country today!


    December 11, 2014 at 11:14 am

  19. I was joking a bit when I mentioned recently that the toffs would have us working as servants for our dole – but obviously somebody thought it was a good idea.

    Come And Clean Our Mansion For No Pay … Just One Of Many Exciting Opportunities On Government Job Seeking Website.

    “The vacancy is at Thornton Manor, a stately home in Wirral which has been converted into a luxury wedding and conference centre. According to one intrepid jobseeker who inquired about this job, potential recruits are expected to carry out a voluntary shift in case they don’t like it. It was then admitted that actually this unpaid work is for the benefit of both parties although in some cases potential employees may not have to carry out a full shift.”


    Andrew Coates

    December 11, 2014 at 11:21 am

  20. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    December 11, 2014 at 10:38 pm

  21. […] Source: Report on Hunger in Britain: Doing Porridge. […]

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