coming to an end.
The author should take a good look around when he rewrites the article. It doesn’t
matter how cheap or expensive food is, what matters is the ability of people to afford
it. The cheapest food in the world is of no use to someone literally made destitute by
ATOS and IDS.
A few weeks ago an out of touch idiot (commonly known as a politician) called Lord
Freud tried his hand at stand up comedy. The problem is while it may be funny to him
and his chums in the Tory party the rest of us call it a tragedy.
Lord Freud, a Work and Pensions minister, insisted that the recent sharp
increase in people resorting to food handouts to feed their families was not
necessarily linked to benefits sanctions or delays. He suggested more people
were taking charity food because more food banks existed.
This drew widespread condemnation, and rightly so, as many organisations and individuals
raised their voices to express how utterly wrong Lord Freud was. Saying that more people
are using food banks because there are more food banks is a ridiculous statement and
is a clear and unquestionable indication of how far out of touch our government is.
There are more and more food banks because the demand is so high that existing ones
The Trussell Trust is the largest single organisation proving food bank services and accounts
for approximately two thirds of the food currently given to those in food poverty. Smaller
charities, local groups and churches make up the other third but it is harder to get definitive
numbers from them and they may very well make up as much as half of the supply rather than
Trussell have over 370 food banks and are opening three new ones every week. That is an
increase of 150 this year and this still leaves a number of towns without help. This does
not include smaller organisations, charities and local banks who will be adding at least
another 75-100 this year.
The number of people who needed the help of a Trussell run food bank in 2010-11 was 61,468.
In 2011-12 this number was 128,697. In 2012-13 the number was 346,992.
Other organisations helped approximately 170,000 more people though this number could be
as high as 350,000 due to a lack of accurate numbers.
This is a threefold increase since last year. What can we expect by the time we have the
figures for year 2013-14, if the number increase threefold again that would be at least one
and a half million people going to food banks. Perhaps as many as two million.
Also consider that food banks operate a rationing system, official sponsoring organisations
issue vouchers each of which is good for three days and most people are limited to three
vouchers a year. Which is another way of saying that many of those people are limited to a
week and a half of food. PER YEAR!
The reasons that people become desperate enough to visit food banks for varies a great deal
but the largest three groups are:
30% due to delays or suspensions of Benefits.
19% due to low income while employed.
15% due to changes to/reductions of Benefits.
The others are a mixture of temporary or permanent illness, unemployment without benefits,
debts etc but are all 10% or less of the total. Notice anything about these figures. 45% are
due to problems with benefits, remember them, the one thing that the Tories do not think
have anything to do with food banks.
Almost one in five are people who have jobs that do not pay them enough to feed themselves
and their families. All those government chants about getting people off benefits and into
those nonexistent jobs ring hollow when you look at the numbers.
So what do we get from our caring government. An ongoing propaganda effort to demonise
the unemployed. Flat out lies about the cost of benefits. The oft repeated £167 billion cost of
benefits that somehow fails to mention that it includes pensions and other costs that dwarf
benefits. Or scare tactics such as the “20% of your tax goes to benefits” in some papers.
We have the following numbers for the DWP covering part of its annual costs:
Housing Benefit £17 Billion
Disability allowance £12.5 Billion
Jobseekers Benefit £5 Billion
Sickness and maternity Benefit £3.6 Billion
State Pensions £75 Billion
Notice anything. Perhaps the fact that six times as much is spent on pensions than on
Disability allowance. IDS is literally killing people by ATOS in order to cut the disability
payments but has anyone noticed MPs Gold Plated Pensions do anything but increase.
I wait with baited breath to see if MPs pensions are cut when they get that £10,000 pay rise.
All those jobseekers who are so often called feckless scroungers and told to go find one
of those nonexistent jobs. They account for less than 3% of the total spent by the DWP.
Let me throw in some other numbers.
High Speed 2 railway. Not a shovel of earth has yet been lifted and it is already estimated
to be over £40 Billion. The war in Afghanistan is estimated to cost £40 Billion by the time
the last of the troops are withdrawn and yet our government is already looking to get
involved in Syria. Libya cost over a billion just to fly overhead and drop bombs,
Syria is likely to cost a lot more given that it may involve a no fly zone, air support flown
against very good Russian air defences, mass supply of weapons to jihadists and probably
boots on the ground.
A pointless white elephant railway could fund the entire Disability costs for over three years.
Afghanistan could have paid for Jobseekers costs for eight years.
A single food parcel for one person is roughly £15. Bombing Syria from a nation under a
dictator into a handful of warring states ruled by Warlords and Religious extremists could have
bought 66,000,000 food bank parcels. That would be enough to give half a million people 132
parcels each, three days per parcel that would be an entire year of food plus enough left
over for something special at Christmas. Or roughly 40 times the current amount
provided by charity.
The Romans understood something very clearly. Bread and Circuses. They kept the
population entertained and fed. They understood that a starving mob cannot be
reasoned with, cannot be bought off with weasel words and false promises. They
did not feed their own people because they were a rich and civilised nation, they did
so because they knew what would happen if they did not.
Our Government does not understand. They do not care. It does not matter that we
are one of the richest nations on Earth. It does not matter that we are supposed to be
a Civilised Nation. All that matters is that party policies will be followed and that every
greedy sod in a suit has his snout in a deep enough trough.
In the second decade of the twenty first century there should not be families going to
charities to beg for food to feed their children. No civilised national government should
be boasting of how many people they have made destitute in the name of preventing
benefit scroungers from cheating the system.
The safety net that exists to feed the hungry should not need charities to be expanding
at the rate of 200 Food banks this year and looking at over one and a half million people
reducing to charity to eat by next year.
As “IDS”, Lord Freud and “Call Me Dave” sit in the subsidized restaurants of Parliament
eating the finest of hand prepared meals do they ever think about the fact that under
their leadership the UK is well on the way to a return to Dickensian poverty.
How long before we are all little Oliver.