NEW University of Oxford research confirms there is a strong link between increased benefit sanctions and higher foodbank use.
The University of Oxford researchers analysed four years of Trussell Trust foodbank data and found an increase in ten 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 yesterday, 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.
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: ‘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, debts 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.’
The research is funded by The Trussell Trust and supported by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award.