in the run up to the general election there were a few discussions about the prevalence and reliance more and more people are having on Food Banks. These conversation have simmered to a whisper in the wake of a Tory majority but I read a tweet earlier from the Huggard Centre stating that a food bank had seen record numbers and this is set to grow – and this out of London.
When I first started specialising in Social Welfare Law our local Food Bank was relatively small. We were an authorised provided of vouchers and I visited a few times to pick up some supplies for clients. We were fortunate to have the service and for the few people that I issued vouchers for, it was a lifeline to tie them over. Keep food in the cupboards until a challenge was at least seen by a Decision Maker.
Fast forward a few years and Food Banks are big business. Some organisations specialising in the provision of thn service for wider areas andarger networks. And they are being used. People from different backgrounds requiring the service. They are not free for all’s but moderated by voucher providers. In my current role even cancer patients are requiring hand outs.
I don’t consider that Food Banks should be allowed to become the norm of being on a welfare benefit. If people are unable to work or are seeking work then their income should reflect a lifestyle that is not belittling and degrading, ignorant of age and circumstance. It is distressing to know that further cuts are proposed and that these will probably come in the few of tighter sanctions in the interim and eventually less money. The benefit cap has already been introduced, which I know won’t affect the majority of my client base, but the system needs to cater to all.
It is all too easy to say that these people should be in work, but the fact that they are not should surely not see someone ‘beg’ or starve. I think Food Banks deliver a vital service but if they do not do more to combat the source they will continue indefinitely and that would be a self-sustaining profacy I would not support. There has to be another way.