Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Archive for the ‘Food Banks’ Category

Food Banks and Benefits.

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Up till the new millenium it was rare – I had never even heard of them – to see Foodbanks in the UK. There were a few night-time soup kitchens in London, famously one run by the Salvation Army near the Embankment Tube station. They were for the homeless, a small number of people, often called “tramps” and “down and outs”.

These were times when you could still get a bath (left over from the time that not everybody had proper washing facilities at home) in a municipal facility (there was one in Ipswich round the corner, still here not that long ago). When the heating on our flat in Kentish Town broke down and working not far away, I used one, near to a hostel for the homeless in Holborn. In the same place, development on what is the Oasis Swimming Pool there, 1983 “Skeletons were found in the workhouse earth basements of the former workhouse inmates, which stopped work for a while”.

There is still a soup kitchen in the area by the Thames, Soup Runs.” St James’s Spanish Place: Operates Tuesday and Friday evenings at Lincoln Inn Fields and Embankment, Central London.”

So how have we got used to Food Banks?

Food banks developed in America where there is no real social security system, and those at the end of their tether are forced to rely on he good will and grace of others – Charity. Instead of rights you get dependence on the minimum needed to survive.

It is not accident that it was during the Regan years, when those who claim to believe that “god helps those who help themselves” grew, “According to a comprehensive government survey completed in 2002, over 90% of food banks were established in the US after 1981.” After initial criticism, “in the decades that followed, food banks have become an accepted part of America’s response to hunger.”

Something similar has happened here with those who would do away with social security and replace it with private insurance if they good in charge of the government since the 1980s, and New Labour unwilling to put benefit payments at a decent level, or to reform the punitive sanction system.

Foodbanks were rarely seen in the UK in the second half of the twentieth century, their use has started to grow, especially in the 2000s, and have since dramatically expanded. The increase in the dependency on food banks has been blamed  on the 2008 recession and the Conservative government’s austerity policies. These policies included cuts to the welfare state and caps on the total amount of welfare support that a family can claim. The OECD found that people answering yes to the question ‘Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?’ decreased from 9.8% in 2007 to 8.1% in 2012, leading some to say that the rise was due to both more awareness of food banks, and Jobcentres referring people to food banks when they were hungry.

Now, with Boris Johnson is charge, a man generously described as a “fabricator and a cheat” whose office as Prime Minister is a “triumph of political lying” (The Assault on Truth. Peter Osborne. 2021), Foodbanks are treated as essential institutuons.

Which they are. As the Trussell Trust has pointed out,

“The rapid growth in the number of charitable food banks had particularly captured public attention, as had the quantity of emergency food parcels they were distributing. Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network distributed 61,000 emergency food parcels in2010/11, rising to 2.5 million in 2020/21.”

“Rather than acting as a service to ensure people do not face destitution, the evidence suggests that for people on the very lowest incomes … the poor functioning of universal credit can actually push people into a tide of bills, debts and, ultimately, lead them to a food bank. People are falling through the cracks in a system not made to hold them. What little support available is primarily offered by the third sector, whose work is laudable, but cannot be a substitute for a real, nationwide safety net.”

“According to an all-party parliamentary report released in December 2014, key reasons for the increased demand for UK foodbanks are delays in paying benefits, welfare sanctions, and the recent reversal of the post-WWII trend for poor people’s incomes to rise above or in line with increased costs for housing, utility bills and food.”

A strategy for zero hunger in England ,Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom

Just to underline the point and bring it up to date.,

The Trust also says,

It’s time for change – and that will only be possible as we raise our voices together to call for an end to the need for food banks.

We need your help. We’re calling on government at all levels to commit to ending the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, and we need you to get involved.

Here is what is happening.

A couple of days ago the BBC ran this story.

Food banks struggle for donations as demand rises

A food bank said it is running low on donations as demand is rising due to the pandemic and people’s financial worries.

Worcester food bank said it gave food parcels to 987 people in September, a rise of 46% on the same month in 2020.

Goff O’Dowd, from the charity, said they were running short on 40 items including pasta and tinned fruit.

He said some people were desperate for help with not enough money to pay their energy bills.

The charity estimates they need 50 tonnes of food to get through until Christmas and are currently receiving about eight tonnes a month.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 12, 2021 at 11:11 am

Iain Duncan Smith, the man who created universal credit, trying “Commons coup on Monday by forcing a vote on the cut.” 

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Iain Duncan Smith's Universal Credit Making 'Very Little Progress', Say MPs  | HuffPost UK

Ian Duncan Smith the new friend of the Claimant.

Today sees more articles and tweets on the Universal Credit cut.

The Observer carries this:

Boris Johnson is warned today that more than 800,000 people risk being plunged into poverty as a result of an imminent cut to universal credit, amid a plot by senior Tories to force the government into a last-minute U-turn.

With Conservatives from across the party pressing for a compromise deal this weekend as ministers face a potential Commons revolt, the Observer has seen new analysis that suggests the impact of the £20-a-week cut could be severe with energy costs and food prices rising.

It finds that the extra support protected some 840,000 people from poverty in the second quarter of this year. The research from the Legatum Institute thinktank includes 290,000 children – a figure that is causing particular concerns among Tories, who fear a significant increase in child poverty after the cut. The figure includes extra universal credit help given to the self-employed.

This is the bit I found interesting, as an old scallywag and foe of this Blog has turned himself into a White Hatter and friend of the claimant.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of universal credit, is attempting to spearhead a Commons coup on Monday by forcing a vote on the cut. The vote could embarrass the government should it go ahead, with another former welfare minister, Damian Green, also backing a cross-party amendment.

Duncan Smith said that the Treasury risked repeating the mistakes of austerity by trying to bring down pandemic spending too quickly. “Universal credit levels-up because it gets people back into work, back into the sense of work,” he said. “We’ve got ourselves caught, with the Treasury now demanding that we start getting the money back from Covid. We should treat this like war debt. We can’t go back into a massive cutting exercise. Ultimately, that will affect the worst-off in society.”

Senior Tories make last-gasp bid to block £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit with Commons vote

Independent.

Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green table amendment to Monday vote on annual pensions uprating.

Senior Tories are making a last-gasp bid to block the £20-a-week cut to universal credit, by staging a Commons showdown on Monday.

They have tabled an amendment to the annual uprating of pensions, which would block the increase unless funds are diverted to stop the benefit reduction.

A defeat would not bind the government to abandon the cut – but Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green, who are behind the move, hope it would nevertheless force ministers to act.

In the meantime this case, flagged up by our contributors, rumbles on:

High Court challenge the denial of benefit increases for nearly 2m people with disabilities

The High Court is to decide whether it was lawful of the Government not to give nearly 2million people on disability benefits the same £1040 a-year increase that it has given Universal Credit recipients.

In a decision dated 27 April the High Court granted claimants of Employment Support Allowance permission to challenge the DWP’s decision not to increase their benefit in line with Universal Credit.

At the beginning of the pandemic the Chancellor announced a £20 per week increase to the standard allowance of Universal Credit, but this vital increase to support was not extended to those on so called ‘legacy benefits’, the majority of whom are disabled, sick or carers.

The final hearing will be held 28-29 September 2021. Further updates will be posted on the website .
High Court challenge the denial of benefit increases for nearly 2m people with disabilities

“In summary the legal challenge is based on the proposition that it is clear that because of the pandemic those dependent upon basic allowances are facing higher basic living costs, and yet despite their very similar circumstances, only some of them receive a Covid-specific uplift to help meet those costs. This unfairness calls for a properly evidenced justification, particularly as very many disabled people are disproportionately affected by this decision and the pandemic generally. Thus far the Government has failed to provide any objectively verifiable reason for the difference in treatment of people in essentially identical circumstances. ”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2021 at 10:43 am

Cut in Universal Credit Dominates Benefits News.

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Our contributors raise issues about benefits sanctions, work ‘coaches’, the Work and Health Programme and Training Services, which got money from the European Social Fund, Restart, the risks of opening Job Centres, Internet Access, and the State Pension and Pension Credit (well worth applying for if you have little money and, obviously, no private pension).

When this Blog was first set up we exchanged a lot of experience on back-to-work ‘schemes’, including placements in variety of companies and public services. Many had serious difficulties with them, probably most with the ‘courses’ given by enterprises like SEETEC. They now seem to be have got set up again.

But the news on Benefits remains overshadowed by the coming cut in Universal Credit.

‘We keep on struggling’: Families on Universal Credit prepare for life without the £20 uplift

Some people, on Legacy Benefits, never got that “uplift”.

Sky.

It’s just under a month to go until the £20 Universal Credit uplift, put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic, comes to an end.

It’s being called the biggest overnight social security cut since World War Two.

This autumn, as the government seeks to claw back some of the unprecedented emergency spending undertaken since COVID-19 hit the UK, familiar security blankets like the £20 uplift to Universal Credit are set to be removed.

It won’t be without its consequences.

Doctors, charities and even some Conservative MPs are calling on the government to rethink its decision to end the uplift.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) says that most parts of England, Scotland and Wales will see more than one in three families and their children affected as a result of the £1,040-a-year .

The Trussell Trust estimates that nearly a quarter of a million parents on Universal Credit fear not being able to sufficiently put dinner on the table for their children when the £20 cut comes into force from October.

Benefits Boss Coffey has been on a jolly in Japan.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 5, 2021 at 5:41 pm

Universal Credit Cut to Coincide with Big Energy Bill Rise.

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6million households on Universal Credit face £1k a year benefit cut if  Rishi Sunak axes pandemic boost

The Currant Bun had this click-bait yesterday:

Find out how much your Universal Credit payment is being cut – and you might get an alert TODAY

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has started telling claimants how much of their current payment is due to the temporary uplift.

It will send out further notifications throughout August and September until the boost is scrapped at the end of next month.

But the DWP is not sending out letters to inform people on Universal Credit that the uplift is coming to an end.

Will Quince MP, the minister for welfare delivery, confirmed in a letter to Work and Pensions Committee chair Stephen Timms that claimants will not be alerted by post.

Instead the DWP will update claimants’ statements and journal messages “making it clear that [the uplift] will no longer be included in their standard allowance”.

When a claimant’s online journal or statement is updated, it sends a text or email letting them know.

The ‘I’ and this affects all of us (in fact I got something from Octopus saying this a week ago)

Energy price cap: £139 bill rise and Universal Credit cut will create ‘perfect storm’ for millions of families

The spiraling costs will result in a ‘miserable and anxious winter’ for millions of older people, while plunging millions of families into debt, consumer experts say

Soaring energy bills combined with the Government’s planned Universal Credit cut will create a “perfect storm” for millions of families this winter.

Energy prices could rise by up to £153 for 15 million households across England, Wales and Scotland in the autumn, just as the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit introduced by the Chancellor last April to help struggling families during the pandemic begins to be phased out.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has announced that from 1 October the energy price cap will rocket by £139 from £1,138 to £1,277 (12 per cent) for 11 million consumers on default tariffs paying by direct debit. For the country’s four million prepayment customers, the cap will shoot up £153 from £1,156 to £1,309 (13 per cent).

….

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2021 at 4:24 pm

Universal Credit Cut: Channel Four News Report.

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Campaign Against the Government's £20 Cut to Universal Credit - Nick Brown  MP

This was a really hard-hitting and to-the-point report last night:

23 Jul 2021

Universal Credit: what it’s like to lose £20 a week

By Jane Dodge

The UK is heading towards the “biggest overnight social security cut” since the modern welfare state was founded, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

They’ve been investigating the impact of the decision to cut Universal Credit payments by £20 a week from October, and they say it could plunge half a million more people into poverty, as well as putting millions of low income families under further financial strain.

UK ‘heading for biggest overnight social security cut since Second World War’

Written by Andrew Coates

July 24, 2021 at 10:03 am