Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report
|A foodbank in the United Kingdom in the year 2014.|
A church funded all-party report is published today,(8th December 2014), on the increased use of food banks in this country and warning that Britain is stalked by low pay, growing inequality, a harsh benefits section scheme and social breakdown. It is perhaps fitting that the report is published just two weeks before Christmas, highlighting the growing phenomena of food bank usage in the United Kingdom. The Tories have of course attempted to distance themselves from any blame associated with this scandal, with one minister claiming that the increased use of food banks is due to the greater publicity about their existence. The Department of Work and Pensions, remain adamant that the administration of the benefit system has little to do with people resorting to food banks, notwithstanding the fact that the report is highly critical of the way in which the benefits system is administered and the consequential delays in payment of benefits not only to those unemployed but also to those claiming additional benefits due to low pay.
Over recent months and years, I have been very critical of the circumstances which have led to over 1 million people today being reliant on food banks and food by charities. The number of people claiming additional support due to insufficient income is indicative of a society which has become reliant on low pay employment, zero hour contracts and a high incidence of part-time employment, all of which are used by the government as indications of a growing economy and increased levels of employment. Nothing could be further from the truth.
During this period, there have been voices raised by government ministers some organisations and elements of the press, suggesting that people are using food banks because either they are unable to budget their incomes properly, or because the food is free, or perhaps their priorities for household expenditure are somehow directed towards cigarettes, alcohol and plasma televisions. It is regrettable that this warped perspective has found its way into the minds of many people who would normally not entertain such bigoted views, but have been influenced by the leader items of the Express, Telegraph, Mail and other right wing media. Today's article in the Observer is no exception with one letter in the comments section, actually stating that, “The benefits system as I well know will support you if you budget sensibly these people are so ignorant the word budget is beyond their comprehension”. The way in which this attitude has contaminated large sections of public opinion, is both sinister and worrying. The government has was sometime been engaged in a conscious program of demonisation not only of food bank users but also of benefit claimants generally. The purpose of this program is to ensure that the concept of divide and rule is applied throughout society, where the employed are set against the unemployed, where the sick are set against the able-bodied and where differences between peoples are highlighted and emphasised in order to gain political advantage.
It may well be true that there are some users of food banks and food by charities who abuse the system albeit that with the requirements of referral by social services, probation services or other such government bodies, will make abuse of the system difficult. However, there is little doubt that the vast majority of the 1 million people who currently use food banks or other such charities, are reliant on these bodies through no fault of their own and do not deserve to be targets of bigoted and ill informed individuals spouting bile and other obscenities through the press as with comments columns of online newspapers.
There seems to be little prospect of the numbers rely on food banks will reduce any time soon, as we are promised a further period of years for cuts and austerity to be the norm in British society. It is predicted that the United Kingdom is reverting to a society not seen since the 1930s, without the Welfare State and without any form of social conscience. It is a scandal and an outrage that we as a nation, allow such circumstances to occur and to perpetuate. The blame lies with successive governments going back as far as the previous Labour administration, but exacerbated over the period of the current ConDem coalition during the last five years. It is a situation about which we should all feel a collective shame, for allowing this scandal to continue. Perhaps with a general election due in May of next year, there may be a change but from the evidence thus far, all political parties are promising a continuation of its territory. It is a scandal and it is unacceptable.
Perhaps today's report, may have some influence on the philosophy of this government but the evidence suggests that this is unlikely to be the case.