I had been given information recently that Foodbank referrals from Job Centres to both Trussell Trust and Independent Foodbanks had fallen drastically over the summer months. In confidence I was told it was because the DWP wanted to see Foodbank visits fall and thus stats on Foodbank use fall. At the time I could not believe that a Government department would deliberately set out to stop people looking for work hold onto a lifeline when JSA may be delayed due to processing, or a sanction had been put in place. The Daily Mirror confirmed the info I had received:
To me it is abhorrent that people literally have the final chance of help at the hour of their greatest need stopped with nowhere else to go.I also find it completely farcical that one minute David Cameron is lauding Foodbanks as "Big Society" in action, and secretly on the other hand plotting to ensure the stats for visits to Foodbanks are made to fall conveniently in 2014 - a year before a General Election.
The cynical use of denying help for job seekers who literally may have no money for several weeks or months due to processing etc is an all time new low for a DWP and a Government who seem to stop at nothing to make sure the poorest and most vulnerable in society stay that way. It is akin to seeing a poor person in a gutter and putting the boot in.
To job seekers denied benefit due to processing delays or sanctions there is only one place left to go and that is the Foodbank. The Government have taken away Social Fund Crisis loans and replaced them with a tiny sum of money in the form of discretionary payments made by councils. However these payments are not ring fenced for use in crises and vary from postcode to postcode in terms of help.
Some new claims for JSA can take 6-8 weeks to process.How is a desperate person to feed themselves in that time? Job Centres, alongside GPs, Social Workers and Teachers have been able to issue vouchers and refer job seekers to Foodbanks to gain the vital lifeline of food in a time of desperate need. Many people do not know where to seek help or often that Foodbank help is available. With the DWP narrowing down option after option the Foodbank is the final open door, job seekers can gain help from.. And now the DWP seek to slam that door shut too.
And let's not forget the Foodbanks are run by volunteers mostly, and the food donated is by you and me. There is no Government input into a Foodbank. It is society that is picking up the very job that the DWP should be doing. So why on earth is the DWP pulling that vital lifeline of support that people in desperate situations need? Stats. Pure Stats. Embarrassed by the soaring rise in Foodbank use and visits, this Government want to present false stats to the nation in 2014 to show how "well" their "welfare reforms" are working. A disgusting and cynical ploy to lie to the electorate.
And what of the job seekers? Will there be Job Centre Advisors big enough to put their own job on the line by telling people where they can gain help? Not many perhaps. The biggest fear is two fold. There will be those like we see in the press on a weekly basis, who will be so ground down by fear of not being able to eat they will almost certainly take their own lives. There have already been too many reports of people taking their own lives in sheer desperation as a result of IDS's "welfare reforms". Couple lack of food with the Bedroom Tax and you have a tsunami of desperation.
I make no apologies when I tell David Cameron and Nick Clegg that they will have blood on their hands if they continue on this roller coaster going nowhere of "welfare reform" which consistently kicks the poor and vulnerable even further as outcasts from society. Feeding those hit most, at a Foodbank by voluntary donations, was the lowest thing I thought would happen in the UK, a sign that we were turning our backs on people in their hour of need. To then pull the Food out of the mouths of the hungry, when society can help and wants to help, is the act of a Government I want to see booted out of powere as soon as possible. This Mr Cameron is truly Not In My Name.....