The Injustice of Food Banks

food-bank

No Matter where you go it is difficult to escape or avoid any of the great social injustices here in the UK, one of the reasons that I cannot understand the lack of outrage concerning many of these grave social wrongs to which most people remain oblivious. Why aren’t people marching in their thousands, even their millions, down to parliament and demanding the Tories get out of government, demanding a cessation of the unfair treatment of people on benefits –  the sick and disabled, the unemployed and the low paid – an end to austerity, and tax evasion by corporations, to name some of the most prominent of injustices in the UK today.

One of signs of these injustices concerns the proliferation of food banks.

My husband and son enjoy visiting old churches and other historic buildings and in many of these churches you will find a collection point for local food banks, which shows that the problem is more serious than we are led to believe if we are under the impression that it is the Throstle Trust alone which distributes food to poor people here in the UK. You would also be amazed at the places you come across that collect for local people who cannot afford to buy food most likely as a result of low wages and Tory welfare reforms including benefit sanctions, and other austerities. In some cases these may be quite affluent areas of the country, such as the Cumbrian Lake District.

According to research by the independent two thirds of people relying on food banks  blamed benefit sanctions, while 12 per cent said cuts to welfare were the reasons that they were forced to use food banks. Low wages are also to blame.

The fact that people here in the UK one of the richest countries in the world need to reply on food banks or go hungry shames us. The fact that few people question this outrage shames us.

Food banks supply food for three days only  – this applies to The Throssle Trust food banks, I have no information concerning other food banks.

Though food banks are of great importance, as they fill the crack left by this great social injustice here in the UK where people go hungry while shops are bursting with food in abundance, the fact remains that people here in one of the richest countries in the world are struggling to feed themselves and their families.

Learn more about The Trussell Trust
http://www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects

In the year after we celebrated the Queen becoming the longest reigning monarch, exceeding the reign of Queen Victoria, perhaps we should also note that for many people here in the UK food banks, as a result of government policy, are returning us to the Victorian age of poverty and destitution.

In one of the richest countries in the world, why are we tolerating a situation where food banks are needed? The Tories have dragged this country back to the Victorian era, while their donors and corporations are not even paying their taxes,  poor, sick and disabled people are being driven to poverty and degradation. This shames every one of us who is content to let this happen, though there surely can be few of us who are not somehow affected by what the Tories have done since they came into power.

The three main reasons people are referred to food banks are 1) benefit delays, 2) low income, and 3) benefit changes.

If people were paid a living wage and not exploited with poor wages then benefits for working people would not need to exist in the first place, benefits that are in any case so inadequate and may be sanctioned at any time for no good reason. Low wages and inadequate benefits drive people to use food banks. In a just society where sick and disabled people were getting enough income to live on, food banks would not be needed. It is only since Tory welfare cuts have food banks risen to the enormous extent that they are today.

Please speak out against this grave social injustice and write to your MP today

Contact your MP
http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/contacting-your-mp/

Latest news concerning food banks

Welcome to the bank where financial advice is free – it’s a food bank
http://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jan/30/financial-advice-food-bank-struggling-people-guidance

This is all well and good but for people who are on sanctions with zero money coming in or a very low-income managing money advice is irrelevant of course – you cannot manage what you do not have.Benefits even when receiving the full rate and these days few people are, are grossly inadequate.  Advice to people under the threat of sanctions of course is a good thing as is help and advice applying for what puny benefits are available. But although well meaning and in many cases a great asset to many, the real solution is to do something about benefits cuts and low wages.

Britons driven to food banks by poverty seen as ‘collateral damage’ by DWP, says Trussell Trust
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britons-driven-to-food-banks-by-poverty-seen-as-collateral-damage-by-dwp-says-trussell-trust-a6794101.html

Related Links

Trussell Trust Scots food bank referrals top 60,000
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-34849661

Benefit sanctions hit 100,000 children – time to rethink sanctions
http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/rethinksanctions

Dear Richard Littlejohn: Please Don’t Pretend That Hunger and Poverty Are Not Real, Right Here, Right Now
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sarah-chapman/foodbanks-richard-littlejohn_b_8123772.html

Food bank use is “strange” during an obesity crisis, claims Tory health minister
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/food-bank-use-strange-during-6911248

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Petition : Insist the Government keep its Target to Reduce Child Poverty

Please click the link below to sign a petition to Insist the Government keep its target to reduce child poverty in the UK

https://www.change.org/p/house-of-lords-insist-the-government-keep-its-target-to-reduce-child-poverty-in-the-uk

The Government is planning to give up on its duty to reduce child poverty, by scrapping child poverty targets. – this petition needs around 24,000 more signatures to make a target of 75,000 so please add yours by clicking the above link.

You do not have to live in the UK to sign the petition so please everyone sign and share widely.

If you live in the UK please write to your MP: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/

The news of this appalling development in the never-ending stream of social injustices inflicted on UK citizens as been around a while and somehow I missed it. It is just so difficult to keep in touch with all the detrimental changes inflicted on the most vulnerable.

This outrageous ditching of the targets to remove child poverty by 2020 is in total contradiction of promises made as recently as this year’s new year speech where among other things Cameron pledged to alleviate poverty. His audacious hypocrisy knows no bounds as it is Cameron and his government who have driven people to poverty, destitution, homelessness and the ever increasing reliance on food banks.

In his New Year speech, Cameron said that the UK is in the middle of “one of the greatest reforming decades” in its history and set out four key priorities: tackling the housing shortage, combating extremism, alleviating poverty, and improving social mobility.

“These are the big challenges of our age, some of the biggest our nation has ever faced and this year is a test of our mettle – whether we put up with poverty or put an end to it…”

“For me, there are no new year’s resolutions, just the resolve to continue delivering what we promised in our manifesto,” said the prime minister, naming the problems of low home ownership, poverty, poor social mobility and extremism as his four priorities in 2016.

Read More:
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/01/uk-in-one-of-the-great-reforming-decades-claims-david-cameron

Alleviating poverty must of course include child poverty. The scrapping of the 2020 target is contradictory to such promises that this liar has made throughout his term in office.

Back in October in his speech at the Tory party conference Cameron promised an ‘all-out assault on poverty’. On his first day as leader of the opposition ten years ago he made the same promise ‘the test for our policies will not be how they affect the better off, but how they help the worst-off in our country’.  

This was the kind of promise that brought him to government in the first place, with his so called new brand of “compassionate Conservatism”. Again he repeated the same promise during the first cabinet meeting after the general election when he told his ministers they should aim to “give everyone” in the UK “the chance to make the most of their life”. Children trapped in poverty do not get the chance to make the most of life, no one does.

It seems that instead of making the promised changes concerning child poverty by 2020 the government have decided to scrap this target.

All kids count. But the government plans to scrap its own targets to end child poverty. Effectively, they want to give up on the 1 in 4 children growing up poor.

When kids grow up poor they miss out – and so do the rest of us. They miss out on the things most children take for granted, they do less well at school and they earn less as adults. Child poverty costs us £29 billion a year. Making sure every child gets a fair chance in life is the right thing to do and the smartest investment we can make as a country.

Read more:
http://cpag.org.uk/all-kids-count?utm_source=Change&utm_medium=petition&utm_campaign=AllKidsCount

Take Action do not let this vile government get away with yet another grave social injustice, despite all their rhetoric  to the contrary they do not give a damn about the majority of people in the UK. Cameron and his right wing government do not care about child poverty with their policies of benefit cuts that have driven 500,000 more children into “absolute poverty” since 2010 with more than four million children now living below the breadline

500,000 more children in ‘absolute poverty’ since David Cameron became PM as Tories sharpen axe on welfare
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/500000-more-children-absolute-poverty-5947219

Please do not forget to sign the petition:

Insist the Government keep its target to reduce child poverty in the UK

https://www.change.org/p/house-of-lords-insist-the-government-keep-its-target-to-reduce-child-poverty-in-the-uk

More Information

Now you see it…  Now you don’t.  The government’s rustled up a party trick for the kids this Christmas. They’re going to make 3.7 million of them disappear.

Britain’s children aren’t going anywhere, of course, particularly those who are growing up poor. But with a legislative sleight of hand, the government plans to quietly give up on the targets to end child poverty enshrined (with cross-party support) in the Child Poverty Act 2010.

When David Cameron became Tory leader, he wanted to end child poverty. Now he just wants to stop measuring it

Read More:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/welfare/2015/12/when-david-cameron-became-tory-leader-he-wanted-end-child-poverty-now-he

In his 2006 Scarman Lecture, delivered as part of this attempt to ‘detoxify’ the Tory Party David Cameron said: “I want this message to go out loud and clear: the Conservative Party recognises, will measure and will act on relative poverty.” But following the 2015 General Election his Government has scrapped Labour’s target for tackling relative child poverty with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissing it as a flawed measure.

Read More:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/10-big-policy-promises-broken-6965585

Tory Voters: Is This Really What You Voted For?

Tory Voters this is what you voted for.

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This DWP voucher has just been posted on twitter by a foodbank volunteer in Glasgow. 

“John has not eaten since Friday of last week, recently found fit on ESA…” which is ‘Employment Support Allowance’ – which means he has some form of sickness or disability. 

Despite what ‘fit’ (as in fit to work) implies, usually nothing can be further from the truth. 100,000s of ‘fit to work’ decisions have been challenged because of the corrupt, incompetent system which handles claims (they have for example found severely disabled people, terminally ill people and even people in comas as ‘fit’. 

And being found fit means that financial support is cut off immediately!

Read More:
http://infernalseason.tumblr.com/post/119610715069/this-dwp-voucher-has-just-been-posted-on-twitter#notes

It is shocking enough that anyone should go hungry anywhere in this world of plenty, yes that right a world of plenty.

But in the sixth richest nation the fact that someone has gone without food for five days is an absolute disgrace, a grave social injustice.

This is not an isolated incident, the need for food banks escalated under the coalition government as a result of welfare reforms, low wages, zero hours contracts and benefit sanctions.

Do you know that the majority of food bank users are people in work!

According to Trussell Trust the largest food bank charity over 1 million people received three days’ food from Trussell Trust foodbanks, compared to 900,000 the previous year. Including almost 400,000 children:
http://www.trusselltrust.org/resources/documents/Press/Trussell-Trust-foodbank-use-tops-one-million.pdf

Don’t forget there are other food backs organised by churches and other local charities so the number of people forced to use this means of feeding themselves and their families is likely considerably more.

No one should ever be in the position that he or she has nothing to eat when supermarkets are jammed packed with food in abundance, the fact that they do and people go hungry is appalling.

Thanks to misguided Tory Voters this situation is likely to get worse. The article below written before the election concerns the predicted drastic rise in food banks should the Tories win.

If the Tories win on Thursday TWO million hungry people will need food banks, research reveals

“Labour analysis of Oxford University research shows that Tory plans to cut £12billion from welfare will drive an extra million people to food banks by 2017”

Please read more:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tories-win-thursday-two-million-5626462

Well as we all know the Tories did win as a result of manipulation by the biased press and distortion by polls that made people apathetic and quite simply down right ignorance.

I would hate to think that if people really understood the situation here in the UK that they would knowingly condone its continuance by voting Tory.

A related issue – Fuel Banks

If it is not shameful enough in this rich country of ours that people do not have the money for food it is becoming increasingly common for people to turn to fuel banks because they cannot afford to heat their homes.

Of course if you cannot afford to eat you cannot afford fuel and it goes without saying that food and fuel poverty go hand in hand.  The number of people who died last winter as a result of cold weather is the highest in fifteen years and expected to be around 40,000

Poverty forced people to turn to food banks and now it’s forcing them into FUEL banks

“A fuel bank has opened in a church in London to help those who cannot afford to pay for their energy bills

In a church hall in one of South West London’s most affluent neighbourhoods, Peter Ward-Miller talks about his fuel bill.

He hasn’t used any hot water at his council home for two years. He washes in cold water, keeps the heating switched off and uses only the bare minimum of electricity.

He has a tiny hotel room kettle, and doesn’t turn the lights on.

“I’m always cold,” says the 53-year-old former garage worker. “Sometimes my hands and feet are so painful.

“I’m getting older and I’m not the biggest bloke you’ll meet.”

His neighbour lent him a fan heater for dire emergencies, but he doesn’t touch his gas at all. He tops the ­electricity up when he can. And when he can’t, he lives in darkness.”

Read More:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/poverty-forced-people-turn-food-5726219

Is this the life anyone should be forced to live in 21st century UK?

Tory voters is this what you really voted for?  If so shame on you. If not wake up and take notice of what is happening to your fellow citizens under this despicable government who not only favours the rich but creates more and more poverty, destitution, misery and despair.

Here in the UK I rather think that the intent is to enslave people to low wages, destroy our welfare system and the NHS and consolidate the wealth and power into the hands of the few.

Frankly I think we are headed for a fascist/totalitarian state if people continue to be complacent, ignorant and apathetic. In Particular I am shocked how in general people have ignored the great injustice concerning the treatment of sick and disabled people and others claiming benefits and have fallen for the “scrounger” propaganda and the misinformation about immigration and other scapegoat tactics to deflect the blame of the so called financial crisis. I never thought people here in the UK would tolerate such treatment of vulnerable people.

The Iron Lady’s Prayer: A Parady

 

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“Parody! Barely.

The Conservative’s* prayer to their goddess of greed, Margaret Thatcher. Her state funeral last year was bordering on outright worship of Thatcher and her ideological legacy of self-centred greed which with all the other branches of libertarianism/capitalism, is creating global harm on a colossal scale: fueling poverty, oppression and environmental devastation.

It’s bad enough when anyone participate’s, but even as an ex-christian, I find the sight of hypocrite’s who pretend to be religious, happily pushing the cult of greed over need; sickening. People who have no problem with the gaping wealth inequality, the poverty, the foodbanks, the homelessness.”

“*Not just the Tories, but UKIP, the US GOP, Conservatives in Canada and Australia…. and all the other    greedy, selfish, sociopaths everywhere.”

Read more and access larger sizes

Byzantine_K
https://www.flickr.com/photos/november5/15843499298/in/photostream/

I cannot and never will understand the cult of greed at the expense of other people, other animals, the earth itself, our very existence and the existence of future generations. The insatiable greed of the few is like an illness, a compulsion when enough is never enough. Like a gambling or other addition it leaves nothing but misery in its wake.  Sadly it is mostly those of this ilk who rule the world and our lives, yet few challenge this status quo. Here in the UK benefits are being stripped from disabled people, people who are too sick to work who can in many cases barely cope with day-to-day living yet are considered fit to work and for non compliance are left destitute with no income, not even the means to obtain food, shelter or warmth, all of which are basic human rights that we all should demand. While food banks open at an alarming hitherto unparalleled rate and people die in their own homes from cold here in the sixth richest country in the world, the rich get richer.

While a child dies of hunger every three seconds in so-called developing countries, while people die of preventable disease and the want of clean water and medical care, have no shelter, no education, no hope and no future, the decadent 1 percent continue living their extravagant life styles accruing more and more wealth at a phenomenal rate.

Here in the UK thanks to the sociopathic polices of Thatcher and her even more warped successor Cameron and his cohorts the gap between the have and the have nots is growing ever wider, more so here than anywhere else in Europe.

How the super rich got richer: 10 shocking facts about inequality

The gap between the super rich and the rest of us is spiralling out of control, with Britain’s 1% grabbing more than their counterparts anywhere else in Europe.

“The coalition government has already reduced the top rate of tax to 45%. Now it plans tougher benefit cuts for the poor. Under current financial plans, it will reward the top 1% even more in future, by cutting income taxes further. The rest of the top 20% can expect slight increases in their net income in the years up to 2016, while everyone else is impoverished.”

“We are facing a fork in the road between having a majority global middle class, or most of us becoming a global service class employed to satisfy the needs of a tiny minority of super-rich individuals.

In spring this year, Oxfam revealed that some 85 of the world’s richest people now had as much wealth as the poorest half of all humanity. A few weeks later, Forbes magazine updated that estimate to just 67 people. Then, within days, they corrected that estimate on their website to 66 people, so fast was the wealth of the multi-billionaires rising in the world during early 2014.”

Interesting to note the following:
London’s wealthy elite also includes the largest concentration of Russian millionaires found outside of Moscow – at least 2,000, many of whom are also “Ultras”. It is impossible to accurately assess their wealth because so much of it is hidden. But the donations from many of them to the Conservative party suggest that they have a direct interest in maintaining the low tax – especially wealth tax – policies of that party. It is not just property that the Russians are buying.
Extracts from How the Super Rich got Richer: 10 shocking facts about inequality
Read the full article:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/15/how-super-rich-got-richer-10-shocking-facts-inequality

Are the super rich getting even richer?

The world’s richest 1 per cent will own more than the other 99 per cent by next year, a charity warns.

“Do we really want to live in a world where the 1 per cent own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.

“In the past 12 months we have seen world leaders from President Obama to Christine Lagarde talk more about tackling extreme inequality but we are still waiting for many of them to walk the walk. It is time our leaders took on the powerful vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.

“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost free option – failure to tackle inequality will set the fight against poverty back decades. The poor are hurt twice by rising inequality – they get a smaller share of the economic pie and because extreme inequality hurts growth, there is less pie to be shared around.”

Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyim quoted in the Channel4 article:
Are the super rich getting even richer?
Read More:
http://www.channel4.com/news/inequality-world-richest-wealth-oxfam-poor-uk-rich

Take Action

Watch the Video and join the Oxfam Campaign Even it Up:
http://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/even-it-up

Inequality is out of control: Time to Even It Up!

Around the world, the gap between the rich and poor is spiralling out of control. Extreme inequality is not accidental or inevitable – it’s the result of deliberate policy choices by people in power. Together we must #EvenItUp and stop #inequality from undermining our fight against #poverty. Join our campaign now to close the gap between the rich and the rest: http://www.oxfam.org/en/even-it-up

Wealth: Having it all and wanting more –  A report by Oxfam

Global wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite. These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance, and pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists.

This briefing explains Oxfam’s methodology and data sources and updates key inequality statistics, such as Oxfam’s frequently cited fact in 2014: ‘85 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population’

Download the full report:
http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/wealth-having-it-all-and-wanting-more-338125

Surely enough is enough, when are we going to take a stand against the greed of the few at the expense of the many. Time for a fair society, one that allows people to have fulfilling lives including of course the very basics which so many people lack such a shelter, food, clean water, warmth, education and health care, without exploitation of other human beings, other animals or the planet.

While the Oxfam initiative is a good start the ultimate fair world consists in removing ownership of the world’s resources from individuals who for all intents and purposes control these often essentials for the life, health and wellbeing of the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants.

“Gross economic inequality is as vile as racism, misogyny and hatred of the disabled; as damaging in effect; and as dependent on a small group of supporters who believe that just a few should have more and more and more, because they’re worth it.”

Danny Dorling

 

In a Just Society There is no Need for Charity

 

tessco food bank promotion

While we do our good works let us not forget that the real solution lies in a world in which charity will have become unnecessary.”
Chinua Achebe, Anthills of the Savannah

I nearly passed this without really taking in what it said, we get so many advertisements pushed at us that we begin to automatically ignore them and it wasn’t until leaving the shop that I noticed the focus of the advertising was local food banks. A promotional campaign to increase Tesco sales,  after all in October profits were down by 92 percent, or was it a genuine act of charity to help struggling families in our community?  As a cynic and a doubter in the goodness of big business I rather think it’s the former rather than the latter. Did someone in a sale promotional brain storming meeting come up with this idea not only to sell more but to promote Tesco as a compassionate and caring retailer? The idea was to get people to donate while Tesco added a 30% top up. The motivation of such an action may never be known. 

This nationwide food collection is now over, it lasted only three days, so I am really thinking now that yes it was a public relations gimmick to  boost sales. After all three days is a drop in the ocean and is not going to come anywhere near preventing people going hungry in our community. The next one is not until July!

According the The Thrustle Trust the idea was “to provide emergency food to local people in crisis – in partnership with Tesco and Fareshare. By donating at your local Tesco store on 27th, 28th and 29th November you can help stop people going hungry in your community. Simply pick up one of our shopping lists and donate an item or two (or more!) at your nearest store.”

The point however is not to make a judgement about Tesco one way or another but rather to question the need for charity in the sixth richest country in the world. In a just and fair society,  and in the case of the UK an affluent society, should you need to donate food so you “can help stop people going hungry in your community”.

Here is the latest news concerning the increase in the number of food banks, in this case Edinburgh:

MORE than 10,000 struggling residents were forced to use Capital food banks in the past year, figures have revealed.

The statistics suggest more than four times as many people were fed by The Trussell Trust – the UK’s largest food bank provider – in 2014 than the previous year.

“The rise has been huge, and it seems to be the case right across the board,” he said.

“The major thing we have seen increasing is the number of people that have been referred to us because of their low income.

“A lot of those people are on static incomes or zero-hours contracts. There has been a huge rise in the cost of living and that’s put people under pressure.”

http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/more-than-10-000-city-residents-turn-to-food-banks-1-3622134

This is just one example of the extent of food bank use here in the UK. Latest food bank figures top 900, 000 

Interesting to note that Tesco along with Argos and Homebase use zero hour contracts or near enough

Some of Britain’s biggest high street stores are paying staff as little as £19 a week on miserly short-hours contracts.

Many working for our major retailers are employed on deals guaranteeing as little as three hours of work a week, a Sunday Mirror investigation has found.

On the minimum wage of £6.31 an hour that would add up to weekly pay of just £18.93 for the minimum three hours.

And even if they work many more hours than that minimum in an average week, some employees are still entitled to just three hours worth of holiday pay when they take a week off.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/argos-homebase-tesco-exploit-workers-3630972

Also

The forward march of zero-hours contracts must be halted

“It’s the uncertainty that gets to me,” Shirley says, despondently. “These contracts only work one way – they don’t offer any flexibility even if you wanted it because if you turn down hours you suffer. One of the girls had her hours permanently reduced because she asked the line manager for a day off to take her child to the doctors. From that day on her card was marked”.

Read More:
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/06/forward-march-zero-hours-contracts-must-be-halted

It is outrageous that Tesco launches a food bank donation scheme while it is they themselves and others like them that are helping to cause the problem of food poverty here in the UK: The Department of Health (England) recognises food poverty as “the inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet.”

If  you look at the list there is nothing very healthy or nutritious. Tins of meat, fish, peas, soup, fruit, also pasta,cooking sauces , tea, rice, coffee and UHT Milk

Nothing much if you ‘re vegetarian or vegan or on a special diet such as a diabetic. Concerning the classification of food poverty.  Keep in mind that people go beyond this definition and may go entirely without food as is the case for many parents who go without so that their children do not go hungry.

We also need to consider the following questions:

Should the provision of life essentials be left to charity? Should food and other basic necessities for life be sold at a profit?

I am by no means saying that it is not good to support charities by donations to food banks, on the contrary if charities did not exist people would simply go without,  but it’s not the ideal by a long shot.  The ideal of course is that every member of society has enough according to his or her need, most particularly food, shelter, warmth and the means to live a fulfilling life with the money to enjoy the same pastimes hobbies and interests as everyone else. In an ethical progressive country no one should work long hours for low wages, no one who is sick or disabled should live in poverty at the mercy of a government who can reduce and even cut benefits entirely, as is the case with the vicious benefit cuts in recent years, most particularly since the coalition government weren’t elected.

Please note

Though I question Tesco’s motives I understand why the Trussell Trust Supported the supermarket’s campaign without which there would be less food available at food banks.  

Please support the Trussell Trust and other charities working tirelessly supporting the under privileged in our society. But please always bear in mind that the ideal is to change the way the essentials of life are distributed. The fact that food an essential for life is sold at a profit is something that needs to change not only here but world-wide along with the other essentials of life. Frankly until we rid ourselves of capitalism, particularly in the extreme unbridled form of recent years, we will never have a fair world, people will continue to die of hunger, preventable disease, live wretched and impoverished lives struggling to get by and it can only get worse as it is doing so now as more and more people slip into poverty of varying degrees.

http://www.trusselltrust.org/

We have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We are still called upon to give aid to the beggar who finds himself in misery and agony on life’s highway. But one day, we must ask the question of whether an edifice which produces beggars must not be restructured and refurbished.
Martin Luther King, Jr

“No society has fulfilled its democratic promise if people go hungry… If some go without food they have surely been deprived of all power. The existence of hunger belies the existence of democracy.”
Frances Moore Lappe

Disclaimer:

I am not responsible for any of the advertising that may appear on this blog.

Poor People in Twenty First Century UK Can’t Afford to Heat Their Food

“We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to food banks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse”

‘As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we need to act now to stop UK hunger getting worse.’
Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould :
http://www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-projects

Increasing numbers of  people are having to resort to food banks as more families than ever before are suffering from poverty. The Trussell Trust alone has reported that more than 350,000 people between April and September of this year  were  given a three-day food package –  this is three times as many as during the same period last year. Even more shocking, the Trussell Trust has said that some people are so poor that they have returned food that requires cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it!
Read more:
http://www.lbc.co.uk/pressure-on-cameron-as-food-bank-use-soars-79743

It is an outrage that In modern-day UK 13 million people live below the poverty line. As unbelievable as this may seem in twenty-first century UK there are people so poor they cannot afford the electricity to heat up donated food. yes I have repeated that fact again as it is just so unthinkable you cannot quite get your head round it can you!

The reasons for this are:

Welfare Reforms:
The coalition government’s vicious welfare reforms, or more precisely cuts in benefits, have plunged many people into poverty. These drastic and unfair cuts range from reduction in amount received to a complete cessation of benefits when seriously sick and severely disabled people are told they are fit for work and have their benefits stopped. These cuts include the bedroom tax which since it’s introduction has plunged many deeper into poverty:

Peter Browne, 42, an unemployed former chef, is wondering how he will get by when £11 of his £71-a-week jobseekers allowance is swallowed up this month by the bedroom tax. He wants to move to a one-bed flat but there are none available. Until there are “it pretty much means heating or eating.”

Browne spends about £5 a week on gas now but he expects that to rise to £12 in the winter. He aims to restrict his food budget to £2 a week. Packets of noodles for 12p, and tins of spaghetti for 19p are on his shopping list. Time your visit right, he reckons, and you can get a nearly-out-of-date loaf of bread from Asda for 6p.

Read More;

Heat or eat? Or take out a loan, do both, and hope for the best? http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/01/heat-eat-loan-liverpool

Here is a report on the accumulative affects of benefit cuts.

The Centre for Welfare Reform, on behalf of the Campaign for a Fair
Society, has done its own analysis:

A Fair Society? – How the cuts target disabled people.
Using the government’s own figures, it is clear that by 2015, in England alone, local government and housing will be cut by £16.2 billion. This is a cut in real terms of 41.9%. Social care for children and adults makes up 60% of all spending over which local authorities have any control. Data collected over the past two years indicates that social care has already been cut by nearly £4 billion, and will be cut by £8 billion by 2015, a cut of about 33%.
Benefits for disabled people and the poorest will also have been cut by £18 billion, a cut of about 20%.

Read the full report
http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/uploads/attachment/354/a-fair-society.pdf

Low wages:
Basic minimum wage for people 21 and over is only £6.31, 18 to 20 £5.03, under 18 £3.72 and an apprentice gets just £2.68. Shocking right? Many people get less. The fact that someone can be working for £ 2.80 an hour in modern-day Britain is scandalous! Not that £6.31 is a lot either if you are supporting a family – or indeed for a single person who has the same rent/ mortgage, heating and so on as a family. Time to pay a living wage to everyone who works and a living benefit for those unfortunate enough not to be able to work as a result of unemployment or illness and disability. Regardless of the job we do, all people have the same needs whether it is the fat cat executive or the road sweeper,  both need to earn enough to provide shelter, food, warmth, clothing and the means to have a fulfilling life! People want more from life than enslavement to greedy corporations working away their precious lives to make another rich while they themselves struggle to afford even the basics in life.

Unemployment:
Over 250 million people are unemployed and many of those who are, are on zero hour contracts, temporary jobs and part-time work.

Price Rises:
Huge rises in the cost of food and other commodities have plunged people into poverty – what has not risen in price? Rents for one thing as greedy landlords have hiked rents taking advantage of an already difficult situation. Private rents now have reached a record high with Rents across England and Wales reaching a record of £757 a month on average in September after jumping by 1.8% month-on-month,
http://money.aol.co.uk/2013/10/18/private-rents-reach-record-high/

Massive Increases in the cost of energy – New increases for all of us as SSE and British Gas hike their prices by extortionate levels of 8,2 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively. The rest of course will follow helping to confirm the belief  that they operate as a cartel.
http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/personal-finance/british-gas-price-rises-electricity-2461539

Note the following in the Daily Mirror article :”The group is also introducing a new fixed standard charge of 26p a day for all customers – which will impact another 6.1 million 

For most everyone except the very rich the cost of living has risen far more than the incomes of the vast majority of the UK population with benefit claimants, which includes state pensions, and the low paid and unemployed being worst effected of course.

I know that there are many desperately poor people here in the UK as a result of welfare reforms and low wages and indeed my family and I struggle to make ends meet and things are getting worse including not being able to adequately heat our home and when it is cold we spend most of the day feeling chilled as we dare not set the thermostat to more than 60 degrees. The cost of heating our home is like having to pay another mortgage, right now I sit here in an unheated room, but to not be able to afford to heat your food beggars belief.

I think many people, even those of us who campaign against the onslaught of austerity that has destroyed people lives, still do not fully understand the severity of poverty that exists here in the UK. After all people who are so desperately poor that they cannot heat their food may not have Internet access and therefore suffer in silence not knowing what to do or where to turn. They have no voice or at least their problems are less likely to be generally known.

The fact that in the sixth richest country in the world people struggle to afford the basics of life such as heating for their homes, food for their families and affordable shelter,  is immoral to the extreme. With 80 billionaires and 509,000 millionaires – a rise of 98,000 since last year and more than any other European county – it is a disgrace. It is immoral when bankers get big bonuses while people go cold and hungry. It is immoral that MPs, many of whom are millionaires including Cameron and Miliband, get huge pay rises while working people live on a pittance of low wages and or inadequate benefits and have to send their children to school hungry.

Do hungry children exist? Teachers say so. Parents say so, though they may go without to give kids toast for tea.

Read More:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/16/immoral-food-banks-one-of-richest-countries

With 4000 food banks already in place the Trussell Trust plan to provide one in each town and city.

Consider the following  :
A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity
Ralph Nader

While this is very commendable and a godsend for struggling hungry people the need for such charities as food banks should have no place in any socially progressive society in a rich country such as the UK .

The government’s welfare reforms need to be overturned and a more fair system put in its place. Sick and disabled people have and are continuing to suffer poverty and deprivation and mental anguish as a consequence of draconian reforms that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, some of whom  died shortly after undergoing the Atos Work Capability Assessment, and many suicides.

The unemployed need to receive sufficient benefits in order to pay rent/ mortgage, food, heating and clothing which are the very basic essentials surely

The scandal of working people needing food banks is a disgrace beyond words but it seems that increasingly more and more people who work are paid such low wages that they cannot afford the very basics of life. To get a situation where people dare not turn on the electricity to cook their food is shocking in the extreme. Time for a raise in the basic minimum wage to at least the so-called livable wage of £7.45 – for London £8.55 –  an improvement of course, but in my opinion not enough

Please click the following links and read the stories of people who through no fault of their own have to resort to food banks including an Afghan veteran who, after suffering post traumatic stress disorder following his time serving in Afghanistan, struggled to find a job and was evicted. As a vegan and pacifist of course I am opposed to armed conflict nonetheless I consider it an outrage when this country turns its back on those who risk their lives for what they consider is right. Shame on the UK for not looking after members of the armed forces who are now as a consequence of their service sick and or disabled.
http://www.trusselltrust.org/real-stories

Also see the stories of  Andrew, Tereza and Neil  told in this Guardian article:

Food bank Britain: ‘I didn’t ask to be ill’
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/11/food-bank-britain-didnt-ask-be-ill

Note Burton-Fullick needs new glasses, but can’t afford them and he and his partner’s immersion heater broke 18 months ago but they don’t have the money to get it fixed. Often it is more than not affording food and often such essentials as replacement glasses and the repairs of such as an immersion heater are not considered. To do without either is a considerable detriment particulary for a sick and disabled person.

Action you can take

Please sign the WOW Petition which calls for : A Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.
http://wowpetition.com/

The Trussell Trust has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the ‘scandalous’ problem of food poverty. Perhaps you could do the same. Follow the lead of the Trussell Trust and write to David Cameron and express your outrage that in rich UK people do not have enough to eat or can afford to use  their electricity to cook their food let lone heat their homes. Yes I know he is unlikely to read it personally, but someone will read it and we need to make our feelings known on the matter. The more people who write the better.

Mr David Cameron, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA
http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/constituencies/witney

Or contact you constituency MP.
http://www.parliament.uk/about/contacting/mp/

Please write even if he or she is Labour,  don’t rely on the Labour party to change much of any of the disastrous polices of the last two years, particularly welfare reforms.

Links

Video: Angry Dennis Skinner takes David Cameron to task over ATOS after victim waiting for appeal dies
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/video-dennis-skinner-takes-david-2460802

http://occupylondon.org.uk/scrap-atos-10000-cuts-and-counting/

Details of benefit changes

http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/benefits_e/benefits_welfare_benefits_reform_e.htm?gclid=COzqrp2goLoCFVDItAodH2IAIw