Local authorities told to increase food banks and ramp up support
The welfare minister, Lord Freud, has said at a welfare reform conference that local authorities should invest more money in food banks and other in-kind support.
Freud had previously come under fire for comments he made about food bank usage, claiming that people were using them because they were free not because they were in need due to welfare changes.
However, Freud seems to have performed something of a U-turn on his attitude towards food banks, saying: “local authorities and the local districts may very well look at ramping up their support in kind in that way, depending on where they are…. I think it’s absolutely appropriate that they do so.”
But Freud’s comments have once again been met with criticism from campaign groups who have accused him of relinquishing responsibility for people in desperate need from the state to volunteers.
Niall Cooper, from Church Action on Poverty, said: “It’s a government rowing away from the principle of welfare. Where are we as a society that people in work are having to turn to food banks?”
Earlier this year, the Trussell Trust charity reported that the numbers of people using their food banks had tripled between April and October of this year compared to last, and they have called for an urgent inquiry into the causes of UK food poverty.
Its executive chairman, Chris Mould, said: “The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable. It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people.”
Yesterday it was revealed that wages have risen lower than the rate of inflation for the last five years running. Campaign groups are pointing to this and welfare reforms for the increased use of food banks.
Chris Mould said: “We’re talking about mums not eating for days because they’ve been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons…. It’s not right that so many more people are now being referred to food banks due to problems with welfare, especially as much of this is preventable.”