350,000 people are currently reliant on emergency food aid provided by one of the 300 Trussell Trust food banks across the UK. Oxfam and Church Poverty Action estimate that the support offered by other organisations brings the total number closer to half a million. Many of these people are in employment.
So what does the Lib Dem and Tory government think about this?
On July 6th, on this website, we exposed the government’s role in creating the conditions under which food banks had become common place in modern Britain. Here we demonstrate the government’s distasteful attitude towards food banks and those people whom Clegg and Cameron have forced into using them.
On 10th September, Luciana Berger, Labour and Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree, informed the Michael Gove, Education Secretary, that parents are being forced to turn to food banks because they cannot afford school uniforms for their children.
She asked Gove, ‘What is this Government doing to help struggling families?’
The Education Secretary replied, ‘I had the opportunity to visit a food bank in my constituency only on Friday and I appreciate that there are families who do face considerable pressures. It’s often as a result of some decisions that have been taken by those families which mean that they are not best able to manage their finances.’
When asked the same question by Ed Miliband, the Prime Minister answered with his usual Flashman flim-flam – it was worse under Labour, Miliband is weak etc. etc. As usual, neither Gove nor Cameron really addressed the issue.
Gove’s suggestion that the reason people visited food banks was because they’d couldn’t manage their finances is particularly offensive and would come as quite a surprise to all those affected.
When it comes to being offensive about food bank users, however, Mr Gove and Mr Cameron keep bad company.
– Before the Commons’ summer recess, Iain Duncan Smith told Ms Berger that the ‘real reason’ behind the increase in food bank use was ‘a growth in volunteers and awareness.’
Such breath-taking insouciance is of course typical of the minister who lives rent-free in his wealthy wife’s family home. Her family’s estate has received €1.5m in income support from taxpayers through grants largely from the European Union.
– On Monday 1st July, Lord Freud, a minister for welfare reform in the Department of Work and Pensions and ex-investment banker, sought to distance government benefit policies from the rise in the number of food banks and their users. Lord Freud was asked in the House of Lords by the Bishop of Truro whether ministers conceded a link between the benefits system and food bank use. The Lord claimed that it was difficult to ‘make the causal connections’ and that ‘It is difficult to know which came first – supply or demand.’ If he had taken the time to visit food banks and meet their clients, he would know that there is a clear link between social security issues and food bank use.
Ms Berger comments:
‘Together with the pressure created by rising prices and falling wages, there has been a marked increase in demand for emergency food aid since the new welfare changes came into effect. And this is affecting both people in and out of work.
‘More than half of people who have visited a food bank since April were referred because of social security problems. A third of these were delays in receiving their support.
‘It’s unsurprising that Cabinet Ministers are so out of touch about the real causes however when most of them have never even been to a food bank.
‘David Cameron eventually did visit a food bank earlier this year following pressure from many MPs, including myself. But he only met with staff and volunteers – choosing not to speak to the people being forced to turn to them.’
We say: No surprise there then.
Our initial question was this: are Cameron and Gove out of touch or naturally arrogant?
The answer is clear – Both!!!!