I had a good read of this story today. For those that don’t know how to click on a link it’s basically about how there’s been a massive increase in the use of food banks in the UK brought on by the impact of benefit cuts and other recession-tastic joys.
There are two main points of interest for me which I’d like to draw your attention to. Firstly this graphic from the BBC article:
Those are some pretty shocking rises. In the UK, the Trussell Trust is the largest food bank provider. There are no doubt smaller organisations as well as kind members of the public who might help their neighbours. What I’m basically saying is that you should look at this bar chart and probably double the numbers on it. The individuals using the food banks are no doubt supporting family members with the items they pick up so hell – double those figures again.
On to my second point. According to the Trussell Trust Website, 13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK. That’s roughly 20% of the UK according to their figures which may be based on some evidence considering their existence is based on supplying food to poor people. Moreover, In 2013-14 foodbanks fed 913,138 people nationwide. Of those helped, 330,205 were children (source).
“But they’re all scroungers!” the right wing Daily Mail readers cry. “I bet they’re just scavenging stuff but still buying new televisions and brand new clothes for Christmas” (heaven forbid the poor want the same luxuries the other classes can afford). In all honesty it was a thought that passed through my critical mind while I read the article. Could I, a relatively well off citizen of the UK get a food parcel? It would certainly help me over the Christmas period and allow me to buy more hand carved crisps from Waitrose.
Well the simple answer is no, I and you dear Horatio, cannot. According to the BBC:
- To qualify for a food parcel [from the Trussell Trust], recipients must have been issued with a voucher by front-line agencies such as social services, the police or doctors.
Hmm. People can’t be scrounging it without official evidence of their poverty. That means that they probably, actually need it. So how does this all tie in with the whole – economy getting better thing? Surely if the economy is getting stronger and there are more people in work then up to 20% of the population should not be relying on food banks? What the hell is going on then?
To be brutally honest I have no idea. But it’s a situation that appears to be getting worse not better. Factor in the pressures on the NHS and the dwindling amount of support the welfare state is able to provide and your looking at a worsening situation. Christ even local governments are still getting mauled.
I have no idea what the Conservative economic strategy is but right now things are looking pretty dire and making more jobs in call centres at 14,000 a year is not the way to help people. People are going hungry, the numbers in relative poverty appears to be increasing; this is not something that is particularly great about Great Britain.
There are still great Britons living in this country. Like those who help out for the Trussell Trust and many other organisations like it and it is my belief that it is our individual responsibility to try and help those less fortunate than us. Nevertheless the fate of this country is down to our choice of government and it will be their decisions that will shape our futures.