Food Bank Demand Driven By Cuts And Sanctions To Benefits, New Report Finds

More than half of people driven by acute poverty to apply for emergency food aid are there because of delays, sudden cuts or sanctions imposed on welfare payments, according to new research

The Trussell Trust’s findings are a direct challenge to the coalition government’s insistence that the meteoric rise in the numbers of food bank users is unconnected to the cuts to the social security system, and is only linked to the growth in provision.

The charity, which runs the country’s largest network of food banks, analysed more than 900 different users at a range of facilities across the country, as well as conducting 40 more in-depth interviews and 178 different caseloads from people accessing one of their advice services.

Up to two-thirds of those analysed by the study, which was commissioned by the charity along with the Church of England, Oxfam and the Child Poverty Action Group, said they were waiting for their benefits which had been delayed, because they had been sanctioned by jobcentres or because they had been suddenly hit by the so-called bedroom tax.

“The promise of a social security safety net that is there to protect people at times of crisis is something that can, and must be, preserved and protected. Food banks, whilst providing a vital and welcoming lifeline to many, should not become a readily accepted part of that formal provision,“ the study says.

The Trust has handed out food parcels to at least 913,000 people from 2013-2014, a threefold increase. The Trust says those figures are a low estimate for the numbers suffering from acute personal finance crisis, many more are likely to be relying on help from friends or neighbours.

 

Read the rest of this Huffington Post article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/19/food-bank_0_n_6183928.html

Stand with us and be sanctioned. Jobcentre bullying at its worst.

The poor side of life

Today we met at Ashton Under Lyne Jobcentre for our regular Thursday demonstration. Nothing unusual at that. We are there every week to support the victims of the Jobcentres cruel sanctioning regime. What was unusual was that we were missing a regular attender. A member of the public that often attended our demonstrations. A nice quiet man, well mannered and very unassuming. He can see the injustice of the system. He had however passed a message onto us saying that he couldn’t attend because the Jobcentre staff had threatened him with sanctions for attending. He would however join us at our meeting after the demonstration away from the Jobcentre. When he joined us I quickly interviewed him and here is a transcript of that interview. In his own words. I cannot name him because he is scared. Hes been threatened by the Jobcentre.

“I walked into the Jobcentre for my…

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Huge rise in sanctions for people with disabilities

The latest Government statistics show that people claiming the disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are having their financial support cut more and more frequently.

The figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that there were more than three times as many sanctions in June 2014 compared to June 2013.
These figures relate specifically to people in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of ESA, who are expected to undertake certain activities in order to receive their benefits. The number of people in this group has actually fallen by more than 10,000.

Tom Pollard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Mind, the mental health charity, said:

“We’re very concerned that an increasing number of people on ESA are having their benefits stopped, despite the fact that there are now fewer people in the WRAG. We know that around half of people in the WRAG need support because they have mental health problems, but over 60 per cent of sanctions are imposed on this group.”

“It is unjustifiable that people with mental health problems are being disproportionately affected by this increasingly punitive system. This confirms our fears that people are being pressured to undertake activities that are inappropriate for them and are not having their mental health properly taken into account.”

read the rest of this article here:http://streetskitchen.co.uk/?p=1468

IDS and Government under fire for ‘massaging’ unemployment figures via benefit sanctions

Amid angry scenes in Parliament, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams referred to a study which suggests 500,000 sanctioned people were excluded despite not finding work

 

Iain Duncan Smith came under fire today after a study suggested cruel benefit sanctions may be helping the Government massage jobless figures.

Campaigning Labour MP Debbie Abrahams asked the Tory Minister how many people were excluded from unemployment figures after being sanctioned but not going into work. The MP was referring to an Oxford University study – seen by the Daily Mirror – which suggests the figure could be as high as 500,000.

In angry exchanges at the Work and Pensions Select Committee, Mr Duncan Smith described Ms Abrahams’ claims as “ludicrous”.

But the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth hit back: “People have died after being sanctioned, Minister.”

“No, I don’t agree with that,” Mr Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, retorted.

 

read the rest of this article here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/ids-government-under-fire-massaging-4575637

EVICTED: Mum and daughter sleeping in Ford Mondeo in Tesco car park

“Eating, sleeping and cleaning are not priorities at the moment” admits Beverly Clark, who says she has nowhere to live after being evicted by Milton Keynes Council.

“We use public toilets to clean and if we have a bit of spare money, we’ll rent a cheap hotel room for a bit of luxury – but that’s a rarity.

“We barely sleep because we’re scared, and it’s hardly comfortable.

“We’ve given up everything. It’s a nightmare, [my daughter] Deryn can’t go to college and I can’t look for a job in these conditions. It’s a never-ending cycle. I can’t win.”

For the last two months, the pair have tended to park their blue Ford Mondeo in supermarket car parks, where they feel safer, beneath the bright lights. Quieter, darker areas are just “not safe for two girls to be sleeping alone in a car.”

Beverly, 38, and 17-year-old Deryn, found themselves without a home after falling behind with the rent on their council-owned Bletchley home.  The pair were evicted from Cherwell House, Derwent Drive, on Wednesday, September 3.

Beverly said: “We have nobody. I have no family here. I am my own support network and my daughter’s support network.”

According to Milton Keynes Council, Beverly has made the pair “intentionally homeless” by failing to pay the rent for the 10 months she and her daughter resided at the two-bedroom flat since December 27, 2013.

By her own admission, Beverly, who says she suffers with depression, did not fill in the required housing application document in time, nor chase up its whereabouts when it apparently went missing.

A spokesman for the council told MKWeb: “We have tried very hard to help Ms Clark, who did not make any rent payments for the duration of her tenancy, despite our repeated efforts to work with her, and help her. There is a discretionary housing payments scheme, but we will only normally assist people to whom we have a statutory duty to house. Because of the issues with Ms Clark’s tenancy, we found her to be intentionally homeless, and therefore not eligible for help from this fund.