Huge rise in food bank use as demand linked to 'welfare reform'
|Rupert Charles Ponsonby,|
In this the 21st Century of our civilisation, it is staggering to hear an echo of an 18th Century remark, purportedly spoken, (but never actually corroborated as a quote) by Queen Marie Antoinette, upon hearing that people were suffering as a result of bread shortages. “Let them eat cake” she is alleged to have said in response to learning that the peasants had no bread, a phrase which has been used for almost the last 250 years, to reflect an individuals obliviousness as to the condition of the people.
Now, in 2013, we have Conservative Environment Minister Lord De Mauley uttering another comment which should go into the history books. “The poor must learn to go without” says Rupert Charles Ponsonby, 7th Baron de Mauley, currently Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Rupert Charles Ponsonby was educated at Eton College, is married to the younger daughter of Lord Fanshawe of Richmond and is a hereditary peer. His financial interests in the Parliamentary Register of Interests include shareholdings in Nexus Management plc (computer services), Farmland and other property in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, including residential properties and an interest in a commercially operated lake in West Oxfordshire.
His knowledge of “the poor” can at best be described as sketchy and second hand and yet his utterances will be seized upon by some as true wisdom. He goes on to advise that the poor should “resist the temptation to spend more money on the latest electronic gadgets, clothes and food that they will not eat” in efforts to recapture the spirit of “make, do and mend”. Comments coming from an individual wallowing in privilege with a lifestyle of comfort and excess, vividly demonstrate the extent to which the government of this country is dominated by class and rich members of “the club” totally out of touch and understanding of the world outside their own limited circles of advantage.
How Rupert Charles Ponsonby, or any of his government colleagues can reconcile their collectively warped views with today’s reports of increased usage of foodbank charities, remains to be seen.
At the end of May this year, I commented on the fact that by then, more than half a million people had become reliant to some extent or other, on the provision of charity food distributed though Foodbanks around the country. Today, we learn, that all around the country, not only in the north but also in the “affluent” south of England and in the west, Foodbanks are being inundated with requests for emergency meals far in excess of the already record number of people being referred to the charities in May. It seems that the school holidays have doubled the number of referrals in many areas, with families who's children ordinarily receive free school lunches among those struggling the most. The situation is exacerbated, because of rising food prices, which despite Government figures are more than 4 per cent higher than last year, and the impact of the ConDem Coalition,s welfare changes that were launched in April are now beginning to have an affect.A spokesman from Iain Duncan Smith's DWP said that: “..... there is no evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks.”
However, the Trussell Trust points out that the number of people going to their food banks for this reason, due to problems with benefits has risen from 20% eight years ago, to 52% today. On the question of foodbanks, it is to our collective shame that we have allowed a situation to come about, where more and more people, perhaps topping 1million by the end of this year, are reliant on charities to feed their families, and yet Rupert Charles Ponsonby, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says “The poor must learn to go without”.
The ConDem Coalition have little shame for, or appreciation of, the effects of their actions and policies on the lives of ordinary people. The crowning insult to add to those of Iain Duncan smith, George Osborne and the rest, are the words of Rupert Charles Ponsonby, “The poor must learn to go without”.
Shame on you Ponsonby and shame to all those who agree with you.