HUNDREDS of thousands of welfare claimants are being denied support by the social services, and are being referred to foodbanks by Job Centre staff if they don’t have enough cash to buy food.
In the last twelve months the number of food parcels issued by Trussell Trust Foodbanks centres has reached almost 300,000 – more than double the year before.
Many foodbanks are operated by the Trussell Trust, which is one of the registered food charities that provides emergency food. It has more than 325 of these in the UK. They provide, at the most, three days’ worth of nutritionally-balanced food for local people in crisis.
Claimants are limited to emergency aid on three occasions. This means that in the last year over 100,000 people have been referred to them by Job Centres.
In fact, in 2011-12 Trussell Trust Foodbanks fed 128,687 people nationwide, in 2012-13 it anticipates this number will rise to over 290,000.
Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment and cuts to benefits are causing more and more people to come to foodbanks for help.
Currently, 13 million people, that is millions of families, live below the poverty line in the UK.
The Trust says the number of people being sent to them from unemployment offices has doubled in the last few months.
‘We have had a lot through from Job Centres where very heavy sanctions have been imposed upon them and they have not been able to feed themselves,’ says Roslyn McVeigh, who manages two foodbanks near Glasgow.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said directing people to foodbanks was a short-term method of alleviating their financial problems.
It is under his instructions that Job Centres send claimants not to the social security but to foodbanks.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne says the revelation demonstrates that even welfare officials recognise the hardship being caused.
‘Instead of sending people to jobs, our Job Centres are sending people to foodbanks.
‘Yet instead of offering extra help, this Tory-led government is cutting taxes for millionaires. That tells you everything you need to know about this government’s values.’
The Trussel Trust has handled many desperate cases. One was of a couple forced to borrow soup to feed their 18-month-old daughter
The Trusts states: ‘When temperatures plummet in winter, foodbank clients across the UK are often forced to choose between eating and heating. For Anne-Marie and Danny, 22, a delay in benefits hit at the same time as Danny was off work with flu. He received no sick pay and finances got so tight that they were faced with eviction as well as having no money for food.
‘The couple and their 18-month-old daughter, Tia, were living and sleeping in one room to reduce heating bills. They resorted to borrowing a tin of soup from their neighbours to stop little Tia going hungry. When the foodbank delivered an emergency foodbox to the delighted family there was ice on the inside of their windows.
‘ “I don’t know what we would have done next if it wasn’t for the foodbank” says Danny.’
This desperate situation is worsening by the minute.
From April 1st, changes to housing benefit (HB) affecting working-age social housing tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms will mean a 14% cut for those with one extra room, and 25% for those with two or more.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) expects 660,000 social housing tenants to be affected by the cut across Britain, leading to many thousands more hungry and homeless people and families that Social Security will ignore.
Charity is not the answer to this crisis of capitalism. The only answer is a socialist revolution. The trade unions must call a general strike to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government and socialism. All the cuts will be reversed and the economy will be built in a planned way to provide jobs and homes for all.