Food Parcels – Back to the 30’s

FareShare Combined FLV by fareshare

More food parcels are being handed out to families struggling to put food on the table as government cuts continue to bite. It’s shocking to hear there are families in affluent 21st century Britain that do not have the means to put food on the table. It is very worrying that numbers are increasing throughout Britain.

British Government cutbacks, rising unemployment and soaring food prices are forcing a growing number of families to miss meals, eat badly or go hungry. Many are living below the poverty line as they wait to qualify for benefits, which can take five weeks or longer.

People have pride and want to work but circumstances have led a lot of families into a devastating situation, which we are trying to help with. It takes a lot of courage to admit you are struggling financially and we don’t want people to feel stigmatised. For many, there is simply no money coming in. How are they going to pay the rent or the mortgage? How are they going to live? There is a mood of genuine fear.’

Institute for Fiscal Studies research reveals that pensioners and unemployed people who depend on state benefits suffer the highest level of inflation as a direct result of having to concentrate their spending on food and heating. But it isn’t only those on benefits who are disproportionately affected. Low-paid workers, many in the public sector, also pay a price – quite literally.

And yet the government has singled out workers in the public sector, hitting them with a pay freeze and higher pension contributions for lower entitlements.

In addition, hundreds of thousands will lose their jobs as part of the government’s calculated assault on the public sector to tackle the deficit caused by bankers’ profligacy and a virtual investment strike by the capitalist class.

The first duty of a government is too look after their own citizens. The Prime Minister said he would protect society’s most vulnerable. This is exactly the opposite of protection. The lack of sustenance has led to a rise in health problems previously linked with Victorian Britain. More than 20 cases of rickets are diagnosed every year in Newcastle alone. Anaemia and skin disorders associated with a lack of nutrients are also rising. The Institute of Fiscal Studies warns that absolute child poverty is set to rise from 2013.David Cameron’s hypocritical mantra, “we’re all in it together,” is given the lie by the contrast in living standards of the rich and poor.

Food parcels are associated with famine-struck parts of the world. Yet there is a “hidden hunger” in Britain. The idea of food parcels has echoes of Dickensian London or a famine-struck corner of the developing world, they are becoming more common in 21st Century Britain. The Trussell Trust charity, operates dozens of foodbanks across the country. It mainly helps people who are not receiving benefits they would normally be entitled to, but also sees many families who fall into financial difficulty after the main breadwinner loses work. The Trussell Trust is a charity which serves those on the brink of desperation.

One of the main reasons for people running out of food is because many have their benefits suspended while they are being re-assessed. The Department for Work and Pensions will say people’s benefits are not stopped while a re-assessment is taking place. That is not true. Food parcels are increasingly helping people who are having their benefits stopped during reassessment. The DWP might say this only happens for three weeks or so, and what’s the problem? But if you’re living week to week then that’s a long gap to cover when you’re trying to feed yourself and a family.

The benefits agency says when families suddenly find themselves without money people can apply to the Social Fund for help, and that it does signpost people to Social Services and charities such as the Trussell Trust. People who change their circumstances need to tell the DWP as soon as possible, to ensure NO loss of benefit, but with government cut backs cutting jobs within Jobcentre plus – it looks certain claims will be delayed. Jobcentre Plus say they are able to cut staff and close offices now because more claimants are using the internet to claim, unemployment is falling and Universal Credit will introduce further scope for reductions. Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has pointed out that these claims are unsupported by evidence and lack credibility.

Internet claiming is at a very early stage and no systems are yet in use to show that large-scale internet claiming and processing is even deliverable. Unemployment is not falling, last month the number claiming JSA went up. Many economic forecasters predict a double dip recession not an economic recovery. The lesson of the last recession is that unemployment can rise very fast.

While some children are short of food, far more are severely deprived of essential nutrients because they are relying on cheap junk food or food that is reduced in price because of the “use by or sell by dates” the foods nutrients & vitamin quality will have reduced. Some children are short of food, far more are severely deprived of essential nutrients because they are relying on cheap junk food. The rate of malnutrition is reaching astonishing levels. Children are being denied fresh foods because families cannot afford to buy them. By early adolescence these malnourished youngsters will be affected by premature diabetes and early signs of underlying heart disease. The bone health of these youngsters is under threat and doctors are seeing increasing cases of rickets.

If either Labour or the Tories, with a side order of Liberal Democrats, were serious about reducing inflation, they would plump for a price freeze on food as well as a windfall tax on these industries’ superprofits. Yet none of them has the slightest compunction about enforcing lower living standards on poorly paid workers, pensioners and the unemployed by means of a pay freeze, inadequate benefits and a shameful level of state pension.

Advice & links:

Families in Ilkeston, Heanor and Langley Mill in Derbyshire are able to receive the parcels which contain enough food for about three days. The needy can visit the Arena Church on Rutland Street. They must have identification and will be interviewed to assess their need. Alternatively, call            01159 442996

Conwy Food Share c/o Arc Communities, Eglwys Dewi Saint, Rhiw Road, Colwyn Bay. LL29 7TE tel: 01492 535626

Leeds in Yorkshire:

Defend the Welfare State (Worldwide Campaign)

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