Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Food Banks

Food Banks, ‘Ethical’ Lords and Lady Bountiful Rush to Help.

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Image result for food banks

Get Rid of System that Creates Food Bank Demand. 

I might be alone in this – though this is doubtful – but isn’t this distasteful?

A Tyneside company is aiming to turn Black Friday into Give Back Friday with a donation to a food bank on orders received during the discounting period.

EthicalSuperstore.com will donate a grocery item to the Newcastle West End food bank for every order it receives over £30 on Friday.

The Gateshead firm is hoping to repeat the success of a similar offer it ran last year, when it donated a total of 1,576 grocery items worth more than £1,500 to the busy food bank.

Peter Leatherland, of EthicalSuperstore.com, said: “Black Friday has become synonymous with crowds of people clamouring to get discounted technology products at well-known high street stores and supermarkets, but we want to do something a little different.

“Our feel-good Friday provides customers with 20% off products as well as giving something back to the community through donations, helping those families who truly need it.

“We want to raise awareness of food banks, hopefully encouraging our customers to think about others and perhaps donate to their own local food banks and good causes whilst hunting for bargains during Black Friday.”

More in the Chronicle.

Nobody doubts the scale of the problem:

More than 500,000 three day emergency food parcels have been distributed to people in crisis in the first half of 2016/17 – over 188,500 to children.

Between April and September 2016, Trussell Trust foodbanks across the UK distributed 519,342 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 506,369 during the same period last year. 188,584 of these went to children.

Trussell Trust CEO, David McAuley says: “As the number of emergency food parcels provided to people by foodbanks rises once again, it’s clear that more can be done to get people back on their feet faster.”

But why does it exist?

Oh Yes…

Benefit sanctions forcing people to use food banks, study confirms

Oxford University research shows link between sanctions and use of charity parcels, a pattern ministers refuse to accept

Guardian 27th of October. 

This was Damian – ‘Gig economy’ – Green’s response (FT November the 16th),

Under the existing system, hardship payments are available to cover day-to-day living costs but for many jobseekers they cannot be claimed until 14 days after a sanction has been applied.

Only certain categories of people can claim those payments, for example if they have children or a long-term health condition. Mr Green’s initiative will add homeless people and those with a mental health condition — an estimated 10,000 — to those who can claim straight away.

We need sanctions, and I don’t agree with those who would abolish them,” he said. “But I am always keen to improve the system.”

If you want to reduce the demand for Food Banks start by getting Labour to make getting rid of sanctions a priority.

Abolish the Sanctions System!

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 25, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Corbyn Tells PM May to See ‘I, Daniel Blake’.

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Image result for I daniel blake sloagn onw all

Corbyn Urges PM to See I, Daniel Blake.

During Prime Minister’s Question Time on Wednesday this happened (BBC)

Jeremy Corbyn asked Theresa May why she was bringing in cuts to Universal Credit.

The Labour leader said her predecessor David Cameron had abandoned cuts to tax credits, but these changes were now being brought back via Universal Credit.

But the prime minister defended changes to benefits and she said it was “important to value work”, and that struggling families were struggling to pay for the benefits of others.

The Guardian summarises,

Today’s exchange was almost wholly around benefits. Jeremy Corbyn recommended that the prime minister should “support British cinema” by going to see Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake during a series of questions about benefit sanctions, universal credit cuts and cuts to the employment support allowance for disabled people. He accused Theresa May of “imposing poverty on people” under the guise of helping them find work. In response, May said Labour was in favour of no sanctions and no obligation on claimants to prove they were unfit for work, and that the benefits system needed to also be fair to the people who pay for it. She said Labour had lost touch with its working-class support and the Tories were now the true party of the working classes.

They add,

Memorable lines

It’s time we ended this institutional barbarity against the most vulnerable people in the system.

Jeremy Corbyn urges May to undo benefit sanctions.

The Labour party is drifting away from the views of working-class people. It is this party that knows how to support them.

May accuses Labour of abandoning its core supporters

The Mirror observes,

Prime Minister’s Questions. She got her knickers in a twist when she somehow called an MP Jeremy Corbyn’s son.

She then brazenly claimed the Tories were the party of the working class when she was told to end cruel benefit sanctions and watch hit film I, Daniel Blake.

The Guardian further reports,

Corbyn urges May to see I, Daniel Blake to gain insight to life on welfare.

Jeremy Corbyn is urging Labour members to attend a series of special screenings of the campaigning Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake, in the run-up to Philip Hammond’s autumn statement, in an effort to rally support against planned cuts to disability benefits.

The film, currently on release in cinemas, details Blake’s struggles with the complex bureaucracy of the benefits system, and was made after the director researched the lives of welfare claimants.

At Wednesday’s prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, the Labour leader suggested May should “support British cinema” by watching the film, to give her an insight into the struggles faced by the “just managing” families she has pledged to help.

Corbyn will attend a special screening of the film on 17 November – less than a week before the autumn statement – as will a series of other frontbenchers, including shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, and shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

McDonnell said: “I, Daniel Blake was one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen so I’m very pleased we have teamed up with Ken Loach to urge people to go and watch it at these special screenings taking place before the autumn statement.

“We’re living in an I, Daniel Blake society as a result of having the Tories in power for six years. The government should be caring for sick and disabled people, not making their lives worse.

In particular, Labour is calling for Hammond to scrap cuts to the employment and support allowance. ESA, which goes to sick and disabled people, who either can’t work or are trying to find employment, is due to be reduced by £30 for some new claimants from April next year. Labour has said it would reverse the policy.

The ESA cut is one of a series of planned reductions in benefits for future years set out by George Osborne before he was removed as chancellor by May in June.

Damian Green, the new work and pensions secretary, has signalled that there will be no fresh cuts in the welfare budget; but his department have insisted they will go ahead with reductions set in train by Osborne, including £3bn a year due to be trimmed off the cost of universal credit.

Tory backbenchers have expressed concerns about the potential impact of some of the changes on poorer families, with backbencher Heidi Allen leading calls for the UC cuts to be reversed – a cause that has also won the support of Green’s predecessor, Iain Duncan Smith.

Duncan Smith has called on Hammond to use his autumn statement, which will reveal the first estimates from the independent office for budget responsibility of the economic impact of Brexit, to cancel planned tax cuts, and spend the money saved on making UC more generous.

Corbyn challenged the prime minister on the various benefits cuts in the House of Commons. She responded by claiming Labour would like to see “no assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare” – an assertion later denied by Corbyn’s spokesman

New Study: Benefit sanctions forcing people to use food banks, which “should not become an informal substitution for the social safety net.”

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“Should not become an informal substitution for the social safety net” says Report.

Few things are more degrading than having to reply on food hand outs because of poverty, and specifically, as the result of having people’s benefits cut or stopped.

With benefit sanctions in the news, after the release of Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake, this is very timely.

Benefit sanctions, whereby social security claimants have their payments stopped for at least a month as a punishment for supposedly breaching strict jobcentre rules, are a key driver of hunger and food bank use, according to a study carried out by Oxford University academics.

Reports the Guardian.

The Trussell Trust, which funded the report, says today,

  • University of Oxford researchers analysed four years of Trussell Trust foodbank data and found an increase in 10 Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions per 100,000 adults was associated with five more adults needing foodbanks
  • In response, The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 420 foodbanks, calls for a true ‘yellow card’ warning system to stop people falling into crisis

Research by the University of Oxford, released today, finds a “strong, dynamic relationship” between sanctioning and food bank usage: there is a link between people having their benefit payments stopped and an increase in referrals to foodbanks.

Researchers analysing Trussell Trust foodbank data from across 259 local authorities between 2012 and 2015 found that as the rate of sanctioning increased within local authorities, the rate of foodbank use also increased.

Even after accounting for differences between local authorities, their modelling showed that for every 10 additional sanctions applied in each quarter of the year, on average five more adults would be referred to Trussell Trust foodbanks in the area. As sanctioning decreased, foodbank use also decreased, which the report suggests is evidence of a strong link between sanctioning and people not having enough money to meet basic needs.

The findings are from the first phase of a 16-month study into how trends in foodbank usage over the last four years relate to changes in the economy and welfare system. Looking across local authorities and over time using aggregated quarterly data, researchers examined whether changes in sanctioning rates within local authorities related to changes in foodbank usage.

Researchers built a longitudinal dataset of local authorities containing quarterly adult foodbank usage, data on foodbank operations, and government data on the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, the number of sanctions applied to Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, unemployment and employment rates, and population size. These models control for differences in characteristics between local authorities and time trends, ruling out other potential explanations for the relationship observed.

The report says foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network experienced a spike in numbers after 2013, when over one million sanctions were applied. Changes to the sanction regime and Jobseeker’s Allowance at this time included increasing benefit conditionality for claimants, sanctions imposed immediately for failure to meet these conditions, and longer sanctioning penalties, starting from a minimum of four weeks to up to three years*. Foodbanks distributed three times as much over the period – from just under 350,000 three-day emergency food supplies in 2012/13 to around 913,000 in 2013/14. Even after accounting for new foodbanks opening, this spike was evident across the network, says the research.

Report lead author Dr Rachel Loopstra, from the University of Oxford, said:

“These findings show clear evidence of sanctions being linked to economic hardship and hunger, as we see a close relationship between sanctioning rates and rates of foodbank usage across local authorities in the UK.’

In response to this new evidence, The Trussell Trust proposes changes to the current ‘yellow card’ warning being piloted by the Department for Work and Pensions in Scotland, and calls for the recommendations to be extended across the UK. Currently, the system in Scotland gives notice a sanction is pending and 14 days to appeal. The Trussell Trust recommend a warning system with a non-financial ‘yellow card’ penalty to first try and engage the person in a constructive dialogue without the immediate threat of financial penalty.

Adrian Curtis, Foodbank Network Director for The Trussell Trust, said today,

“The findings from this ground-breaking study by the University of Oxford tell us once and for all: the more people sanctioned, the more people need foodbanks. We now need to listen to the stories behind the statistics: families go hungry, debt spiral, and the heating doesn’t go on even as temperatures drop.

“There is much to be hopeful about – we’re very pleased to see sanctioning rates have decreased and that the new Secretary of State has announced that work capability re-assessments for ESA claimants with incurable or progressive illnesses have been scrapped. However, we still see people being referred to our foodbanks who have been sanctioned unfairly. A true ‘yellow card’ system, which gives people a non-financial warning first, would mean less people thrown into crisis and ultimately, less people needing foodbanks.”

You can see the paper here:  The impact of benefit sanctioning on food insecurity: a dynamic cross-area study of food bank usage in the UK

Household food security, which may be compromised by short-term income shocks, is a key determinant of health. Since 2012, the UK witnessed marked increases in the rate of ‘sanctions’ applied to unemployment insurance claimants, which stop payments to claimants for a minimum of four weeks. In 2013, over 1 million sanctions were applied, potentially leaving people facing economic hardship and driving them to use food banks. Here we test this hypothesis by linking data from the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network with records on sanctioning rates across 259 local authorities in the UK. After accounting for local authority differences and time trends, as the rate of sanctioning increased by 10 per 100,000 adults, the rate of adults fed by foodbanks by an additional 3.36 adults per 100,000 (95% CI: 1.71 to 5.01). The availability of food distribution sites affected how tightly sanctioning and food bank usage were associated (p<0.001 for interaction term), such that in areas with few distribution sites, rising sanctions led to smaller increases in Trussell Trust food bank usage. Sanctioning appears to be closely linked with rising need for emergency food assistance, but the impact of sanctioning on food insecurity is likely not fully reflected in available data. There is a need to monitor household food insecurity in the UK to fully understand the impact of government policies on this outcome.

These are  important parts of their conclusion:

The recent decline in sanctioning is a positive sign, and has likely contributed to the decline in the numbers of people using food banks within local authorities in 2015/16. Yet, in 2015, there were still about 358,000 sanctions applied to JSA claimants. We also observed that declines in sanctioning were not as strongly linked to declines in food bank usage, explaining why the decline in food bank usage has not been as fast as the decline in sanctions. This could be because experiences of sanctions trigger longer-term financial crises, such as debt accumulation.

And,

Our findings also highlight the limitations of any charitable food support network’s ability to eradicate food insecurity. These networks are increasingly relied upon to fill in the gaps in welfare support but, by relying on volunteers and donated food and space to operate, they will vary in their capacity to address hunger in their area. As such, they are not equipped to address these gaps in every part of the country and are less able to respond quickly to changes in need. Food banks are not an adequate solution to the problem of hunger, and they should not become an informal substitution for the social safety net.

The Independent notes,

The Department for Work and Pensions dismissed the findings as “misleading”.

“The reasons for food bank use are complex, and it is misleading to link them to any one issue,” said a government spokesperson.

“We’re clear that work is the best route out of poverty, and the number of people in employment is at a record high, up by 2.7 million since 2010.”

They said £90 billion was spent on working age benefits “to ensure a strong safety net”.

One further point:

Written by Andrew Coates

October 27, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Posted in DWP, Food Banks, Sanctions

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In British Political Hysteria Rise of People Forced to use Food Banks Ignored.

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The number of people begging in the streets round here has not stopped growing.

Not a days goes past without seeing people on the pavements asking for money.

Not just one, but I’d say at least 20 in the town centre.

Now this report covers people whose money is delayed.

Those begging are not eligible for benefits, because Coachey would shout at them, scream something about his own past as ragamuffin  on the streets of Victorian London, tell them to pull their socks up and spend 35 hours a week ‘job-searching”.

Those homeless and sleeping in the roads in the town centre have no money.

To even get into a Food bank, well they would not qualify easily.

This kind of thing, in the present political hysteria, is being ignored.

But this report from Welfare Weekly, is important.

Benefit delays responsible for one in five foodbank referrals, new research shows.

Benefit payments delays are responsible for one in five referrals to foodbanks while benefit sanctions were responsible for 1 in 12 referrals, according to a new study by the University of Oxford and University of Chester.

The landmark two-year study of statistical data from West Cheshire Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, provides valuable and unequivocal evidence on the causes of food poverty and who uses foodbanks.

Information was collected from 5,808 households referred to the foodbank over a 24 month period between May 2014 and April 2016, in one of the most systematic and detailed studies into foodbank use to be carried out in the UK, leading to the publication of the #stillhungry report.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 20, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Posted in DWP, Food Banks

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Universal Credit to Create Homelessness.

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In my distant youth the DWP was called the DHSS, and the JobCentre was still known, though not officially, from an even earlier time, as the Labour Exchange.

Wood Green Dole office – also the place you went to get your National Insurance Number and your first job – had a special section where the homeless, often alcoholic, used to go every day to get their pittance.

They are talking about making – and in some cases are actually making – some of the out of work also sign on daily.

The 1970s lot were referred to as “down and outs”, probably a kinder expression than what the present government thinks of us.

There were not many openly homeless people in the 1970s.  I suppose the only places you could see the homeless in the streets in the 1970s was underneath the arches at Charing Cross where the Sally Army did a night kitchen. * There were hostels in the centre of London, including a well-known one by what is now the Saint Mungo’s Hostel in Endell Street. Hostels, B and Bs, it was not a pleasant life, but was it as bad as sleeping in skips or on the pavements?

That began with the arrival of Thatcher to power in 1979.

If it was bad then, now every time you visit London you see people in the streets begging, with all their belongings and sleeping bags on them,  and guarding their little encampments.

There is a new group in Ipswich, in Dog’s Head Street.

Report after report points out that tightening the claiming rules, making everybody prove their 35 Hour a week Job Search, increased the numbers.

As with sanctions swelling the ranks of people quietly queuing up in Food Banks, so the growth in homelessness continues.

* “Underneath the Arches” is a 1932 song words and music by Bud Flanagan, and additional lyrics by Reg Connelly.According to a television programme broadcast in 1957, Bud Flanagan said that he wrote the song in Derby in 1927, and first performed it a week later at the Pier Pavilion,Southport.] It refers to the arches of Derbys Friargate Railway Bridge and to the homeless men who slept there during the Great Depression. It was however taken by Londoners to refer to the Arches in Charing Cross, as can be seen from poster of the  adjacent Embankment above.

This is set to become even more of a problem.

‘Shambolic’ Universal Credit Scheme Will Lead To Rising Homelessness, Say Landlords

Universal Credit rent delays mean a growing number of private landlords are refusing to rent to low-income families.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 20, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Sanctions against Jobseekers and the ill in Sharp Rise.

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Benefits and Work published this note on the 17th of February.

The number of employment and support allowance (ESA) sanctions increased by almost a third in the last two months for which figures are available, statistics published by the DWP today show.

The ESA and JSA sanctions statistical release shows that ESA sanctions in 2015 increased as follows:

July 1,096

Aug 1,272

Sept 1,831

The last time sanctions were as high was in April 2015.

ESA sanctions reached their highest point in March 2014, when 3,695 sanctions were handed out.

Meanwhile JSA sanctions have fallen dramatically from a high in October 2013 of 90,974 to 21,973 in September 2015.

No explanations for the changes in either ESA or JSA sanctions rates have been offered by the DWP.

You can download the full statistics from this page.

 

Vox Political publishes today:

The proportion of sanctions against people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) leapt up by around 19 per cent between July and September 2015, researchers from Glasgow University have found.

Perhaps more damningly, sick claimants on ESA are more likely to be sanctioned repeatedly than JSA claimants.

These rises should be set in the context of a continuing decline in monthly sanction rates, due to a fall in the number of claimants. JSA and Universal Credit claims fell by 12,980, while the number of ESA claimants exposed to sanctions – those in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) – has fallen as an increasing proportion of claimants are being put into the Support Group rather than the WRAG.

“The present government has pushed up the proportion of referrals which result in an actual sanction by about 19 percentage points,” wrote Dr David Webster, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow.

“Further investigation has revealed that this is due to an astonishing rise in the proportion of referrals for ‘not actively seeking employment’ (ASE) [“which actually means not seeking work in the way instructed by Job Centre Plus”] which result in a sanction, to 96 per cent, compared to about 50 per cent for all other sanctions.

It appears that the DWP’s decision makers are now doing little more than rubber-stamping ASE sanction referrals. [bolding mine]

“The impact on claimants is compounded by the fact that the proportion of ASE sanctions overturned is currently a tiny six per cent, compared to about 17 per cent for all other sanctions.

“This appears to be part of the same campaign to put pressure on unemployed people as the ‘claimant commitment’, which is compared by Frank Field in a new publication (reported in the Briefing) to a ‘prison manual’.”

Dr Webster’s briefing, The DWP’s JSA/ESA Sanctions Statistics Release, 17 February 2016, states that “there has been a sustained fall since November 2013 in the monthly rate of JSA sanctions before and after challenges as a percentage of claimants, to 4.28 per cent and 3.67 per cent respectively in the year to September 2015.

The rest of the story here.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 1, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Food Banks Gear up for Christmas.

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Food Banks are an emotional subject.

There is no doubt that people use them out of necessity.

There is little doubt that those running them have good intentions and work hard at what they do.

But having to ask for what is not a benefit of right, but what is ultimately a favour, is not an easy thing to do.

Nor is the prospect of having to live on the basics they offer appealing.

The ‘umble classes, and this Blog, like something “tasty” from time to time.

Whether that includes a bacon sarnie, wagon-wheels, Cornish ice-cream, a massive pizza, or wild boar cooked in truffles with a bottle of SaintÉmilion (our own choice) should be up to us, not to a Food Bank.

The government’s idea of ‘Food bank jobcentres‘ is even less attractive.

Some Food Banks (see below) also have a religious element.

This seems to be the current state of play:

Trussell Trust Warns Of Record Levels Of Food Bank Demand This Christmas

Reports Welfare Weekly.

The UK’s largest foodbank charity is warning of record levels of demand over Christmas, with struggling families facing stark choices between eating and heating.

Referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks were 53% higher in December 2014 than the average across other months, with more than 130,000 food parcels given to families and individuals in desperate need.

The charity warns that this December could see even more people forced to turn to foodbanks, as figures show that demand has increased by 14,000.

Trussell Trust handed out 506,369 food parcels between April and September 2015, compared to 492,641 over the same period in the previous year.

Each food parcel contains the equivalent of three-days worth of food and can only be received following a referral from a frontline professional, such as housing associations and children’s centres.

Trussell Trust food bank charity lands Christmas Big Lottery Fund boost but warns of record demand levels’

East Anglian Daily Times. 8th December.

The Trussell Trust has received almost £750,000 in extra funding from the Big Lottery Fund to cope with the strain, but it is concerned that its service will still be under pressure from growing numbers of people on low incomes who will face deciding between eating and heating.

The money will contribute towards services provided by its More Than Food programme, including debt advice, money management, welfare and housing advice, courses in cooking on a budget and other training, as well as emergency food.

There are three Trussell Trust food banks in the county – East Suffolk Foodbank in Lowestoft, Haverhill Foodbank and Lakenheath Foodbank.

David McAuley, chief executive of The Trussell Trust, said: “Winter is the hardest time of year for people living on the breadline; many will face stark choices between eating and heating.

“Every year we meet families who are worried about having anything to eat on Christmas Day, who have been living and sleeping in one room to keep heating costs to the absolute minimum

“Food bank use is likely to rise significantly over the winter months and we’re anticipating that it could peak at the highest level yet this Christmas.

“Increasingly, Trussell Trust food banks are able to provide additional support services to help resolve some the underlying causes of food bank use, and this will be especially impactful over the winter months.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for their generous support in enabling food banks to help families and individuals at the point of crisis to get back onto their feet more quickly. The funding couldn’t come at a better time.”

Nationally, between April and September this year, Trussell food banks gave out 506,369 emergency three-day food supplies, compared to 492,641 in the same period last year. December 2014 in particular saw an average increase of more than 50% in referrals to food banks compared with other months.

Food Banks  in East Suffolk. and  Ipswich (FIND is a Christian-based registered charity that was founded in 1990 to provide emergency assistance to families or individuals affected by poverty or dispossession.)

In our view too many people who should be supported by our social security system are being let down by it – with delays in benefit payments, debt, unfair benefits sanctions and the bedroom tax pushing people to the doors of food banks.

Charity is no substitute for benefits: depending on the good will of people to help is not the same as having a right to a basic minimum standard of living.

Above all, food. 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 9, 2015 at 5:14 pm