On Wednesday, in the House of Commons, the Labour party put forward a motion that called for the government to look into the use of food banks in Britain.
The number of people – many of them hard-working families – using food banks provided by one network, the Trussell Trust, has increased from 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000 by April this year. One-third of these people are children. The number of food bank clients has doubled since 2012.
According to the Trussell Trust, the key factors in the rising numbers of people resorting to food banks are rising living costs and stagnant wages, as well as delays to social security payments and the impact of the Bedroom Tax.
The government, through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, commissioned and paid for research into the use of food banks, and promised to publish the results in the summer. That report has been withheld.
As with so much in politics, Wednesday’s “debate” was less about the matter in hand, and more about a ding-dong of party point-scoring. As Isabel Hardman has written in The Spectator, “this debate has become all about the politics of food banks rather than the much more important issue of how government really can help them and drive down demand for them”.
The essence of the Opposition motion was the call for the publication of the government’s own report.
The motion was defeated, the ConDem coalition mobilising its numbers to avoid a defeat. Click here to read the Hansard record of the debate, and the vote.
It is worth noting that among those who voted against the motion were the Sutton LibDems, Paul Burstow and Tom Brake (the deputy leader of the House), and Croydon’s Tories, Tricky Dicky Ottaway and the MP for the Whitgift Foundation, Gavin Barwell.
A classic case of party politics taking precedent over conscience. And common humanity.
- There is a national petition which you can sign which calls for a
reform of a welfare situation which has created the demand for food
banks – 100,000 people signed it in just two days. Click here to add your name to the petition
- And you can make a donation to the Croydon Nightwatch charity to help them with their invaluable work this winter with the homeless, poor and vulnerable in the borough.
Coming to Croydon
- Cinema Ruskin: Dec 21
- Surrey Street Christmas market, Dec 22
- Community Carol Service, ACA, Dec 22
- STDLCC Screening: Now You See Me, Dec 27
- STDLCC Screening: Kolya, Dec 30
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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- VIDEO: Food banks debate (bbc.co.uk)