Coffee House

How food banks were shunted around government departments

21 March 2014

2:34 PM

21 March 2014

2:34 PM

It is well worth reading Paul Waugh’s interview with Iain Duncan Smith in the House Magazine for a number of reasons – not least his hint about docking child benefit in the future. But the Work and Pensions Secretary also makes an interesting comment about food banks:

‘We are not responsible for food banks, that policy area generally is Cabinet Office and so it should remain. I’m happy for people to visit food banks, I don’t have a particular problem with them.’

I’ve written before about why people visit food banks, and why even if we had a very good benefits system that paid people the right amount of money on time, there would still be a need for these examples of strong communities. But IDS does drop a hint here about a row that raged between departments about who on earth was responsible for food banks. I hear that the policy area was bounced between Owen Paterson’s Defra department, IDS’ DWP, Eric Pickles’ CLG dept, and the Cabinet Office. None wanted to have oversight of food banks, arguing that they weren’t a central part of their operations. In some instances, this is reasonable: DWP taking responsibility for food banks would suggest that ministers were happy for them to become part of the welfare state. Recently Panorama investigated food banks, but no minister would speak to them, leaving Conservative PPS David Burrowes to respond as chairman of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.

Food banks have become a toxic issue. But that’s partly the fault of the Conservatives for failing to respond to the issue and allowing Labour to frame it, and this bickering between departments won’t have helped.

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Show comments
  • Owi Wowi

    As the rising number of foodbanks causes so much distress to all and sundry could the government not start closing them down? Maybe a legal requirement to test everything they hand out for horse meat will do the trick.

  • Colonel Mustard
    • Theoderic Braun

      Is the following a lie?

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hungrier-than-ever-britains-use-of-food-banks-triples-8882340.html

      Is this a lie?

      http://londonist.com/2014/02/london-food-bank-use-up-by-400-in-two-years.php

      Or this?

      http://derbyshire.gov.uk/council/news_events/news-updates/2014/february/increase_in_local_food_bank_use_backed_by_government_report.asp

      Or this?

      http://www.lgiu.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Update-on-food-banks.pdf

      Although I’m not a member of the Labour party, nor voted for them in 2010, as far as I can see they are only reporting facts presented by others, all of whom are expert and/or reputable. As far as I can see it is the Coalition which persistently dissembles and falsifies, a fact borne out by the fact that people like Grant Shapps and Iain Duncan Smith have had their knuckles rapped publicly on several occasion for misusing (lying) with statistics which I think is disgraceful behaviour.

      • HookesLaw

        Have you seen the size of the welfare budget? Have you noticed the massive increase in job creation?
        Where are the govt doing anything wrong? All food banks are are a stick to beat the govt with. Shock horror something is provided free and its snapped up.

        • Theoderic Braun

          But there is enough money to give a couple with a joint income of up to £300,000 per annum £2,000 per year to help with childcare costs? And to increase the threshold at which direct tax is levied on income? And to pay for a married tax allowance? And so on and so forth. I would not wish my prosperity to be increased by means of increasing the suffering of the poorest citizens in society. Further if the coalition is correct when claiming that more people are in work now than ever before, why so little tax is flowing into the Treasury? I’ll leave you to work that one out for yourself.

        • Anita Bellows

          There is not a massive increase in job creation. Just self employment as a way to beat unemployment and many don’t earn much and have to rely on tax credits. Do you know many people find a job through the work programme in 3 years? 48,000 out of 1.5 million people referred to the programme. It has to be the biggest expensive failure, apart from Universal Credit
          The welfare budget is made of 40% of pensions, but yes it keeps growing, and although DWP has performed almost 5 millions disability assessments, the numbers have hardly fallen.
          I am quoting DWP figures.

      • Colonel Mustard

        “Although I’m not a member of the Labour party, nor voted for them in 2010, as far as I can see they are only reporting facts presented by others, all of whom are expert and/or reputable.”

        Ha ha! Pull the other one.

        • Theoderic Braun

          Upon my honour I voted Liberal Democrat in 2010.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Just as bad. Twin cheeks on the same backside.

            • P.chi ki wan

              With an r sole in the middle

              • Theoderic Braun

                True that.

            • Theoderic Braun

              I won’t be voting Liberal Democrat again although it has to be said that the leadership of the party is not representative of the party itself, although slightly more representative now after so many former members have resigned and left in disgust.

  • Theoderic Braun

    Five times more people had their benefits stopped than found jobs through the government’s flagship Work Programme.

    http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/news_and_events/news_centre/index.cfm/five-times-more-sanctions-than-jobs-on-government-s-work-programme

    About a million benefit sanctions are imposed on the poorest of the poor every year often for the most trivial reasons or mistakes leaving those sanctioned with no income for one month to three years. Little wonder then that use of food banks has increased exponentially correlated with the draconian, unjust and ridiculous sanctions regime designed by Iain Duncan Smith and Lord David Freud. This situation is quite simply monstrous.

    • Colonel Mustard
      • Theoderic Braun

        I can’t speak about a survey I have no knowledge of based on answers to an anecdotal question. I have no idea what questions were asked to what populations.

        (If the question posited had been asked from a population of low paid workers and benefit claimants I would bet the farm that a quite different statistic would have been forthcoming.)

        What I know about the matter is based on statistics gathered impersonally by agencies and authorities concerning what is happening now and as far as they go there is no doubt whatsoever that more people are facing more difficulties than ever before, across the board. This obviously has to be the case considering changes made to social security by the coalition which rob the poorest of the poor of income, e.g., a below inflation uprating using CPI rather than RPI (a real terms cut) and many local authorities making them pay a portion of the Council Tax for the first time out of monies never supposed to be used for this purpose and so on and so forth.

        As I have said I am not a Labour supporter nor voted for that party during the last general election but I am so sickened by the casual cruelties visited on the poor by the coalition that I may well vote Labour in the next election, or, in fact, for whichever party fields a candidate most likely to defeat the person standing for the Conservatives whom I now consider utterly despicable and completely beyond the pale.

        Iain Duncan Smith in particular deserves vilification.

        • HookesLaw

          Pathetic. There is not a bottomless pit of money. The way you personalise your attack gives a lie to your professed independence.
          Whats your opinion of Frank Field?
          Labour have agreed with the benefits cap.

          • Theoderic Braun

            Frank Field? A vain, pompous, poorly educated, self-aggrandising political pygmy, bereft of the intellectual capacity to grasp matters that the media lauds him to be expert in. Same as David Freud really, although Freud transferred his loyalty from Labour to the Conservatives and Field the opposite.

          • GraveDave

            Labour have agreed with the benefits cap.

            Yep, and once they get in and have properly organised the mess IDS started, they will probably up the ante on the sanctions and food banks. Though they have pledged to reverse the bedroom tax.
            I wonder.

        • Colonel Mustard

          “As I have said I am not a Labour supporter nor voted for that party during the last general election but I am so sickened by the casual cruelty visited upon the poor by the coalition that I may well vote Labour in the next election, or, in point of fact, for whichever party fields the candidate most likely to defeat whoever happens to be standing for the Conservatives, a malicious and unjust political force which I now consider utterly despicable and completely beyond the pale.”

          Come off it. You work for Labour.

          • Theoderic Braun

            Stop being so silly. The enemy of my enemy might sometimes be my friend but the friend of your enemy is not always your enemy. I have no connection whatsoever with the Labour party other than as a potential Labour voter in the 2015 election. In fact I dislike the Labour party almost as much as the Conservative party but believe it to be marginally less inhumane, unjust and deliberately cruel than the Tory contingent in the current coalition government.

            • Colonel Mustard

              Yeah, right.

      • GraveDave

        But more people went hungry under Labour.

        Well, that really comforting to know.

        • Colonel Mustard

          What a terrible thing to say. It doesn’t comfort me.

          • GraveDave

            Yep, I bet you’re crying your eyes out over it.

      • Anita Bellows

        The same survey from the OECD says that 70% of people surveyed in the UK wanted the level of welfare maintained or increased.

    • HookesLaw

      pcs – thats the Public and Commercial Services Union ….

      • Theoderic Braun

        The revelations in Serwotka’s article are factually true and cannot be denied simply because they have been delivered by a messenger you politically disapprove of.

  • Bourne18

    I found that interview very difficult to read because it was so nauseating in its dismissal of reality and its self-deceit. Its importance lies in its insight into the mind of a man who feels himself to be unaccountable to anyone and impervious to anything which doesn’t fit into his world-view. Your endorsement of it is no surprise.

    • David Lindsay.

      He is opaque.
      Like our Frank Field.

      • HookesLaw

        What a surprise – you hate Frank Field.

        • David Lindsay.

          Not sure I said that.
          Frank is a true Christian.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Hello telemachus. Up to your usual games again.

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