Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Freud denies food bank rise and welfare reform link

Lord David Freud has said there is ‘no evidence’ of a link between the government’s welfare reforms and the surge in the numbers of people using food banks.

The welfare reform minister was asked in parliament yesterday about the increase in the numbers of people turning to food banks. The Trussell Trust charity has estimated the number of people using food banks in 2012 was 350,000, almost triple the number from the previous year.

Labour Lord William McKenzie suggested the abolition of the social fund, which provided grants to people in need, is to blame for the increase. Lord McKenzie said: ‘Does the minister not accept that this, taken together with harsher benefit sanctions regimes and a longer wait for benefits, will mean that the use of food banks will only increase? Is it not a fact that under this government food banks are looking to be a permanent part of the welfare provision of this country?’

Reverend Tim Thornton, the Lord Bishop of Truro, also tackled Lord Freud on the issue. He said: ‘[Is] the government prepared to concede that there may be a link between benefit delays, errors and sanctions and the growing number of people using food banks? .’

Lord Freud said it is difficult to make ‘causal connections’.

He said: ‘There is actually no evidence as to whether the use of food banks is supply led or demand led.

‘The provision of food-bank support has grown from provision to 70,000 individuals two years ago to 347,000. All that predates the reforms. As I say, there is no evidence of a causal link.’

Lord Freud said food banks are not part of the welfare system. He said: ‘We have designed our welfare system to support people with advances of benefit where they require it.

‘It is not the job of the [Department for Work and Pensions] to monitor this provision [of food banks], which is done on a charitable basis.’

Readers' comments (27)

  • Eric Blair

    Evidence? Okay, new figures (Tesco, Trussell Trust - use Google) show that 18% of UK people have suffered food poverty. This involves doing without food and - for families with kids - this figure is 21%.

    These are by definition, low income families who are more likely to use food banks. This is not proof but it IS evidence. There is no evidence that welfare reforms are NOT causing food poverty either. I wonder if Freud can spell disingenuous...

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  • Desperation is setting in........

    IDS calls bedroom tax a success ?!?

    Freud cuts citizens income but can't see how it would lead to people having less money ?!?

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  • Rick Campbell

    Prize eejits IDS and Freud actually believe the garbage coming out of their mouths.

    What is more worrying is the fact that some posters to IH and the public actually lap up that rubbish too.

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  • Chris

    In the bad old days they would have claimed it was all a communist plot - just wait till conference season and they will be claiming that the poor have consipired to make the economic policies of the government look bad - if only the feckless would work longer hours for less pay everything would be OK - they are not doing their bit the ungrateful plebs!

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    The mere fact that food banks exist, let alone on the increase is a severe indictment against Freud and his crony Duncan-Smith.

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  • Without a non bias independent study asking those who use food banks why they are such banks there perhaps is little evidence. Yet, at the same time I would say there is no evidence to support the opposite view. My gut feeling is that welfare reform has had some effect but as yet there are no statistics to ‘rub’ into millionaire Lord Freud’s face.

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  • Colin McCulloch

    Foodbank usage is on the up due to a cost of living crisis - welfare reform and cuts are all part of that. 500,000 people didn't simply turn up at foodbanks for free weekly shopping - they were referred there.

    Things like direct payments and the monstrous bedroom tax will only exacerbate a growing sore on society.

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  • "‘It is not the job of the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] to monitor this provision [of food banks], which is done on a charitable basis.’"

    Not sure the DWP can wash its hands of this when its benefit offices are sending people off to food banks with vouchers (if I understand correctly).

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  • michael barratt


    "That this House views with the gravest concern the recent report by the Trussell Trust, the biggest provider of food banks in the UK, that more than 350,000 people turned to their food banks for help in 2012-13, almost triple the number who received food aid in the previous year and 100,000 more than anticipated; believes that estimates put the true figure of those receiving food aid in 2012 at nearer 500,000 when other independent food banks, churches, charities and community groups are taken into account; understands that to meet the sustained demand for emergency food supplies, the Trust itself launched almost 150 new food banks in the last year and is currently approving three new food banks a week; notes that the Trust's own research suggests that, nationally, 45 per cent of all referrals are as a result of benefits problems which include benefit delay (30 per cent) and benefit changes (15 per cent); further notes that a significant causal factor is most likely to be the rising tide of the draconian regime of benefit sanctions leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale; further believes that this level of food poverty, which shows every sign of growing as further changes to the benefits system take effect, is wholly detrimental to the social fabric of the UK, further marginalising, as it does, the poor, the unemployed and already socially disadvantaged and is incompatible with the functioning of a modern, compassionate society; and calls on both the Government and the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee to conduct an urgent inquiry into the relationship between benefit delay, error or sanctions, welfare reform changes and the growth of food poverty."

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  • I went to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance today for the second time in my life (always having worked or been a housewife with 3 kids) As a single mum now and desperately looking for work I have to sign on to JSA to makes ends meet. I have not had a single payment yet and lived off my credit card since June 5th was told by a DWP advisor TODAY when I was asking why I have had no support and he told me it's down to a DWP error and to go to the local food bank if I am that desperate until they sort out the problem. Basically A DWP ADVISOR HAS SAID TO GO TO THE LOCAL FOODBANK UNTIL I GET MY BENEFITS! I wonder how many more across the UK have been given the same or similar advice? Are we heading back to the days of the workhouse? People are genuinely starving and going without their basic human rights in THIS country TODAY!

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