Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Food Banks

Call to raise Benefits to cope with Mental Health Crisis.

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Proper Benefits a Key to a Fairier Future.

People often talk of their worries about money, and none of more than those on benefits. It is less common to speak about their mental health, and the issues about plain and simple anxiety. It is one of those that governments do not admit but systems like Universal Credit and designed to create anxious claimants desperate to get out of a system that is designed to make them complete piles of job application, spend their time in ‘job search’, and constantly aware that they do not receive enough money to live properly on. Not to mention that many consider that they are being treated as refuse.

 

Raise benefits to curb UK crisis in mental health, expert urges

The welfare system is damaging the health of the poor and needs to be overhauled in the wake of the Covid pandemic, Britain’s leading expert on health inequalities has warned.

Sir Michael Marmot said increasing out-of-work benefits and support for low-paid workers as the country emerged from the pandemic could have a big impact in curbing a mental health crisis and even save lives.

Marmot, who chaired a seminal government review on health inequality in 2010 and warned last year that life expectancy had stalled for the first time in more than 100 years in England, said in an interview with the Observer that ministers should not “fiddle around the edges”, and instead should drastically reform the “uncaring” system in place.

“During the pandemic, we have seen that poor people got poorer,” he said. “We know that food insecurity went up. The likelihood of being in a shut-down sector increased the lower the income. So you’re either in a sector that was shut down, if you were low income, or you had to go out to work in an unsafe sector, or frontline occupation. Where we were in February 2020 was undesirable – and what happened with a pandemic is it made those inequalities worse.

“I have seen evidence that for some people in receipt of universal credit, there are mental health consequences. It is a brutalising system. Everyone should have at least the minimum income necessary for a healthy life. That means, ideally, all people of working age should be in work. That’s the desirable state.

“And in work, they should be paid a living wage. If they can’t work, for whatever reason, then the welfare system should be sufficiently generous for their health not to be damaged by that experience. We know what needs to be done. Let’s do it.”

This of course hardly helps people’s anxiety:

 

EXCLUSIVE Southampton MP Royston Smith charge the taxpayer £1 for his car parking during a visit to a food bank in November last year.

Still someone’s happy today:

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 21, 2021 at 3:54 pm

Food Banks and Universal Credit.

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Queuing for a Soup Kitchen in Glasgow.

 

 

xclausx signals this.

When exactly did Food Banks become an established part of life in the UK?

In theory social security was meant to cover people’s basic needs, with enough money to get what you need to eat as a part of benefit levels. The welfare state is based on rights, a kind of universal insurance, but also a a minium protection for all,.

There are countries without a welfare state, and those with such a small cover for those in need that food provision is the principal last resort for the poor, working or not. ” In the US the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal nutrition program. Known previously as “food stamps,” SNAP benefits can help you stretch your food budget if you have a low income. SNAP (food stamps), D-SNAP, and WIC for women, infants, and children. “

That said, people have fallen through that net for a long time (dole is very limited, and can simply come to a complete end after a fixed time), soup kitchens, have been part of the US landscape for decades.

The idea is that people should succeed if they merit it. Real failures, ‘losers’ as they call then, should have to reply on the generosity, if they can get it,  of strangers. Or go to the gutter. If really genuinely unfortunate the kindness of charity is available,

The world’s first food bank was established in the US in 1967, and since then many thousands have been set up all over the world. In Europe, which until recently had little need for food banks due to extensive welfare systems, their numbers have grown rapidly since the 2006 and even faster since the global economic crisis.

In the UK, traditionally food hampers have been given out to the elderly and vulnerable members of communities at Harvest festivals and at Christmas but all year-round hunger has been a prominent issue since 2007 and has dramatically increased since 2011. Most, but not all, UK food banks are co-ordinated by The Trussell Trust – a Christian charity based in Salisbury which serves as the UK’s only food bank network. The Trussell Trust was established in 2000; in 2004 they only ran two food banks but as of August 2012 a massive 252 were being operated.

In the UK, a food bank is not a “soup kitchen”. Whilst the majority of food banks do give food directly to the hungry it is done by the issue of a voucher system which is issued from a third party. Soup kitchens can be accessed by the hungry without the intervention, assistance or referral of any professional body.

The History of Food Banks

Trump did this at the end of 2019,

Hundreds of thousands of Americans who rely on the federal food stamp program will lose their benefits under a new Trump administration rule that will tighten work requirements for recipients.

The move by the administration is the latest in its attempt to scale back the social safety net for low-income Americans. It is the first of three proposed rules targeting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as Snap, to be finalized. The program feeds more than 36 million people.

The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to receive benefits.

Trump admirer (“Jacob Rees-Mogg MP says he would vote for Donald Trump” and Brexit fanatic Jacob Rees-Mogg, now Leader of the House of Commons said in 2019 that,

The voluntary support given to food banks is “rather uplifting” and “shows what a compassionate country we are”, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

He told LBC radio the only reason for the rise in their use was “that people know that they are there”.

..

“To have charitable support given by people voluntarily to support their fellow citizens I think is rather uplifting and shows what a good, compassionate country we are,” he said.

“Inevitably, the state can’t do everything, so I think that there is good within food banks.

“The real reason for the rise in numbers is that people know that they are there and Labour deliberately didn’t tell them.”

Thérèse Coffey agrees,

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has described food banks as the “perfect way” to help the poor.

 

The Honourable Lady is right to praise volunteers at her local food bank who support vulnerable people in their area.  The Honourable Lady is right to praise volunteers at her local food bank who support vulnerable people in their area.

“Marrying the two is a perfect way to try to address the challenges that people face at difficult times in their lives.

“The Hon. Lady will be aware of the work that we have been trying to do with the Trussell Trust, and I am pleased to say that we will also be having a roundtable of independent food banks to understand how we can help them and their customers to move forwards.”

You have to say that if Universal Credit is such a success, why on earth do we need these providers? Do we want to a society, a Trump utopia, where the poor dutifully queue for food? What about rights and equality, the right to a minium decent living standard for all?

Trump has gone. His fellow national populists in the UK should be booted out..

But now this is what people are saying,

https://twitter.com/jrf_uk/status/1359108381710163969?s=20

Here is what Moggy is concerned about today:

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

February 11, 2021 at 4:41 pm

Food Banks: Demand Rising and Rising just as Food Supply Crisis Looms.

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What food banks are crying out for this Christmas – the items you can donate and how to do it - Mirror Online

Demand Keeps Growing.

 

In our town there is usually a queue outside Gregg’s in Upper Brook Street.

Just a few metres away there are, most of the time, people begging.

Grazia today,

Food banks across the UK have seen a 47% rise in need during the pandemic, according to The Trussell Trust, a charity that supports a network of more than 1,200 food banks, including this one. Between April and September, their food banks provided more than 1.2 million emergency food parcels – over 470,000 went to children. And their figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

We Want To Make Food Banks Extinct, But This Year They’re Busier Than Ever

This is worth reading;

 

COVID-19: Sainsbury’s warns of fruit and veg shortages if freight chaos not solved within days

Now with the real prospect of food shortages, which will affect everybody,  this toss-pot is saying this;

Here’s a suggestion for Xmas Presents.

Image may contain: text that says "Christmas tip: Give the Brexiter in your life an empty box on Christmas morning and tell them it's full of sovereignty. See their little faces light up!"

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 21, 2020 at 11:24 am

Food Bank Britain Faces Bleak Winter.

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Food banks report huge surge in demand for food parcels amid Covid pandemic

This is no surprise.

Most things like this you can see if you care to look, right bang in your area (obviously not in IDS’s manor).

As this Blog has mentioned there is a queue of people outside the Seventh Day Adventist Church in  this area waiting for food on a Sunday.

This is outside of the main local Food Bank network. FIND foodbank

It is just a lot more visible to anybody in the centre of the town.

Trussell Trust reports that it has already helped more than a million people affected by the Covid pandemic.

More than a million food parcels have been handed out families and individuals in crisis since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, according to new figures from the UK’s largest food bank network.

The Trussell Trust, who operate more than 1,200 food bank centres, says it has helped to support over 1.2 million households who have been negatively affected by the economic fallout, caused by the outbreak.

It includes 470,000 food parcels given to parents to feed their children, a 52% rise on last year, and is equivalent to 2,600 food parcels for children being given out every day since the start of the pandemic.

There is also an article by James Bloodworth which is really really worth reading:

Why the poor eat poorly

The Government has U-turned on free school meals. But moralising about people’s diets won’t help

BY 

 

When I was researching a book on low-wage Britain, I stumbled across an article in the Daily Mail about a woman who managed to survive on £1 a day. “Frugal Kath Kelly, 51, ate at free buffets, shopped at church jumble sales and scrounged leftovers from grocery stores and restaurants,” ran the story. “She even collected a staggering £117 in loose change dropped in the street.”

The story was written in admiring tones — Kath Kelly was presented as a sagacious and resourceful example to the poor. The underlying message was that the lower orders were feckless and stupid. Instead of sourcing and preparing healthy ingredients, they chose to plonk themselves in front of a television set and inhale pot noodles and multipacks of crisps.

 

…..

For those on low wages or benefits, poverty is the thief of time. Being poor invariably consists of countless hours spent waiting around for public transport, bosses, landlords or public sector bureaucrats. And that’s before one adds up the additional time it takes to care for a family. Even if it can be done relatively cheaply, preparing a healthy meal invariably takes longer than putting a pizza in the oven.

….

We no longer dictate the food those on unemployment benefits must consume (though the argument that we ought to is a frequent saloon-bar trope). But a peculiar moral tone to our conversations about food persists. This is not confined to one political tribe. Nowadays liberals too are often heard laying down pious strictures as to what the poor should eat and drink. Sugar taxes have been introduced and junk food advertising is set to be banned before the 9pm watershed. Newspapers such as The Guardian have called for the government to go even further in terms of regulating what people eat.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 12, 2020 at 11:03 am

Universal Credit Is Not Working – House of Lords Report.

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After having posted about mass unemployment looming people have been speaking more and more about redundancies and the prospect of being out of work. You don’t have to have family or friends who are affected, just look on the Web, and here (one of our contributors excepted).

It is seriously worrying when secure jobs are under threat.

These things tend to work out in ever-expanding rings.

Now people face the prospect of joining the inner circle of hell, the dole, and specifically Universal Credit.

Their Lordships have produced this report which is making a splash.

The reason is obvious, as this Sky headline underlines,

Universal credit ‘harms the most vulnerable’, says major report amid surge in claims

Some 3.2 million people made new Universal Credit claims between the start of the lockdown in March and mid-June.

The BBC covers the story

Universal Credit ‘failing millions of people’, say peers

Universal Credit is “failing millions of people”, especially the vulnerable, according to a new report from peers.

The Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee said it agreed with the government’s aim for the scheme – to bring together multiple benefits into one payment.

But it criticised its design, blaming Universal Credit for “soaring rent arrears and the use of food banks”.

Welfare delivery minister Will Quince said the government was “committed to supporting the most vulnerable”.

But he said the scheme had “defied its critics in unprecedented and unforeseeable circumstances” during the coronavirus pandemic, adding: “The case for Universal Credit has never been stronger.”

Reactions are beginning to tumble in.

One poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said the report “reinforced the scale and urgency of reforms needed”.

And Labour said the system was “simply not working”, instead “pushing people further into poverty and debt”.

Note well this bit.

The Lords’ report said cuts to social security budgets over the last 10 years had caused “widespread poverty and hardship”.

As a result, the committee said Universal Credit needed “urgent investment just to catch up and provide claimants with adequate income”.

The peers called on the government to make the rise in payments due to the coronavirus crisis permanent.

They also called for a non-repayable two-week grant to be introduced to cut the current five-week wait for a claimant’s first payment.

The government said urgent payments were already available, but peers said the standard five weeks “entrenches debt, increases extreme poverty and harms vulnerable groups disproportionately”.

So, Universal Credit is a problem.

Let’s begin with the beginning, with the money you have to live on.

Coming up to my Pension I notice that even the increased UC payment is far below Pension Credit.

It would also perhaps be better if this report came from other people  than those who Daily Allowance (£150) alone (excluding their other revenues, paid in guineas or  gold sovereigns)  is nearly the JSA rate for a fortnight.

This is what their Lordlyships say,

Lords Select Committee.

 

The Economic Affairs Committee publishes its report ‘Universal Credit isn’t working: proposals for reform’, which calls on the Government to make substantial changes to universal credit in order to protect the most vulnerable.

“Most people, including our Committee, broadly agree with the original aims and objectives of Universal Credit. However, in its current form it fails to provide a dependable safety net. It has led to an unprecedented number of people relying on foodbanks and not being able to pay their rent.

“The mechanics of Universal Credit do not reflect the reality of people’s lives. It is designed around an idealised claimant and rigid, inflexible features of the system are harming a range of claimant groups, including women, disabled people and the vulnerable.

“Universal Credit needs more money to catch up after 10 years of cuts to the social security budget. It requires substantial reform to its design and implementation, the adequacy of its awards, and how it supports claimants to navigate the system and find work.

“The five-week wait for a first payment must be replaced by a non-repayable two-week grant to all claimants. The monthly payment calculations which can result in big fluctuations to claimants’ incomes should be fixed for three months. Historical tax credit debt needs to be written off.

“The punitive nature of Universal Credit has not worked. It punishes the poorest by taking away their sole source of income for minor infractions. It needs rebalancing, with more carrot and less stick, particularly as large numbers of claimants will have ended up on it because of events completely out of their control.”

Other findings

The Committee’s other key findings and recommendations include:

  • The Government must prioritise helping people into work, particularly with the increase in unemployment that the Covid-19 pandemic is causing. All claimants should have a work allowance, at a higher rate than now, to allow them to keep more of their award as they move into work.
  • The Government should consider reducing the taper rate to ensure that the poorest in society do not pay higher marginal effective tax rates compared to the richest in society.
  • The conditionality requirements on claimants who can look for, or prepare for work, has been increased significantly over recent years. Less emphasis should be placed on obligations and sanctions. Instead, there should be more support to help coach and train claimants to find jobs or to progress in their current roles. Conditionality should be adapted to accommodate changing labour market conditions, including at the local level, particularly in the light of the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The UK has some of the most punitive sanctions in the world, but there is limited evidence that they have a positive effect. Removing people’s main source of support for extended periods risks pushing them further into poverty, indebtedness and reliance on food banks. There is a substantial body of evidence which shows that sanctions harm people’s mental health. The Government should evaluate the current length and level of sanctions. It should also expedite its work on introducing a written warning system before the application of a sanction. Sanctions must be a last resort.
  • The Government is doubling the number of work coaches in response to potential levels of high unemployment. This may not be enough to support people to find work in a stagnant labour market with high levels of competition for jobs. A cap should be introduced on the number of cases for which each work coach can be responsible.
  • Paying awards on a monthly basis does not reflect the way many claimants live. It causes unnecessary budget and cash flow problems. All claimants should be able to choose whether to have Universal Credit paid monthly or twice monthly.
  • Including childcare support in Universal Credit was a mistake. Paying costs in arrears has been a barrier to in-work progression and in some cases, it has been a disincentive to work. The Government should remove childcare support from Universal Credit and be made into a new standalone benefit paid in advance.

ITN carried this story a couple of days ago,

Food banks report ‘unprecedented demand’ during Covid crisis as unemployment predicted to rise to 10% by the end of 2020

Food banks experienced their “busiest month ever” during the coronavirus crisis as families faced a loss of income due to job losses or furlough schemes, the Trussell Trust has said.

The food bank network saw an 89% increase in demand for emergency food parcels in April compared to the same period in 2019.

The figures included a 107% increase in food parcels sent to children with the number of families seeking help almost doubling since last year.

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) reported similar increases reporting 175% more emergency food parcels given out in the UK during April 2020 compared to last year.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 31, 2020 at 6:54 am