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Posted on 17 April 2014 at 11:16 GMT

Food Bank use escalates

Derek McMillan

Nearly one million people are relying on food banks in Britain, up nearly 350,000 (163%) in the last year according to the anti-poverty charity, the Trussell Trust. The massive increase can be directly related to government cuts in benefits.

Trussell Trust chart

Trussell Trust chart   (Click to enlarge)

Yet the Department for Work and Pensions consistently pretends that "people are using food banks more because there are more food banks". This is possibly the most stupid piece of logic since it was estimated that if there were fewer firemen there would be fewer fires.

Those claiming Jobseeker's allowance (JSA) are increasingly facing payment delays and sanctions. Even the paltry sums provided have been under attack since October.

The minimum sanction has been raised from one to four weeks and benefits can now be cut for up to three years. JSA is basically a means of punishing the unemployed. Many desperate people are now being forced into the hands of loan sharks.

The work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith is at a loss to understand this. When he was unemployed he had the option of staying in daddy's mansion and having the servants bring him three meals a day. He certainly didn't need a food bank so neither do these people!

The rules for applying to use most food banks are quite strict. People have to be referred by a care professional such as a doctor and food aid is strictly limited.

Labour opposition?

Of course, the Labour opposition is going to do something about this.

Actually, no! Labour's shadow ministers have meekly agreed to continue with Tory spending cuts. All Labour is offering is 'more of the same'. Vocal opposition is coming from religious groups and charities who normally keep quiet about the Conservatives to avoid 'being political'.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is alone in opposing all cuts. The choice this May in the local elections in England is very simple.

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