The shocking scale of food poverty in Britain is exposed by new figures showing record numbers of people are reliant on handouts because of punitive benefits sanctions, reports the Independent.

More than 900,000 people were given emergency food in the past year, an increase of 163 per cent, according to figures from the Trussell Trust, the biggest food bank charity.{jcomments on}

The explosion in demand has coincided with an increase in those seeking help following a benefit sanction.

A coalition of anti-poverty charities, including the Trussell Trust, claims the figures show that the UK is breaching international law by violating the human right to food.

Separately, 600 church leaders from all major denominations, including 36 Anglican bishops, are writing to the Government today, calling for urgent action to address hunger among the poor.

In its most hard-hitting report to date, the Trussell Trust said the Government’s use of sanctions was “increasingly harsh” and that half of those referred to food banks in 2013-14 were as a result of benefit delays or changes.

Eight out of 10 of their food banks saw more cases relating to benefit sanctions over the past year.

In total, 913,138 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust food banks in 2013-14, compared with 346,992 in 2012-13.

Static incomes, rising living costs, low pay, under-employment and other problems related to welfare reform also contributed to the increased demand, the charity said.

Manager of the busiest food bank in Coventry is Hugh McNeil, is a softly spoken man who doesn’t appear to be the political type.

But, when asked about the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms, he struggles to contain his fury.

“Compassion has disappeared out of the welfare state,” he says. “There’s none any more.

"The way these benefits are being administered is just so punitive and nobody seems to be thinking about the children affected either.”

Read more on the Coventry food bank in the Independent

Reacting to the publication of the Trussell Trust report, Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth and a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee (W&PSC) and has been demanding that the Government set up a 2nd independent inquiry into the 'appropriateness of sanctions'.

Debbie said: "When I organised a recent collection for our foodbank, the manager told me that 65% of the people coming to them for support were there because they were being affected by problems with their social security.

"Today's Trussell Trust report is providing yet more evidence that the Government's tactics are to skew the unemployment data by targeting tens of thousands of vulnerable people despite the misery and hardship this policy is causing.

“It’s also worth noting that many of the people caught up in this government’s disgraceful, ideologically driven, policy to smear anyone on social security as a ‘scrounger’ are actually in work but on low salaries.

"I've already called on Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey to hold an independent inquiry to look specifically into the 'appropriateness of sanctions' and, although Ms McVey agreed to do this in November last year, she was overruled by the Government.

"My question is what have they got to hide?"


Write comments...
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.