dwp dwpCharities have, for some time, suggested that the rise in the use of food banks is
in large part down to Benefit cuts, delays in Benefit payments and sanctions.
Food banks have produced evidence from their users about why they have
asked for help and benefits cuts have been given as a leading reason. Here’s a
recent reportfrom CABx in Scotland.
The DWP have refuted this. DWP Work Services Director Neil Couling,
told the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committeeto
look at whether it is ‘…demand-led growth or supply-led growth… two bits of
evidence that suggest that growth is to do with supply and not demand. First,
…In Canada, where the population is half that of the United Kingdom, at 32
million, the weekly use of food banks is not 60,000 but 700,000. In Germany,
Deutsche Tafel, which is the equivalent of the Trussell Trust, reckons that in 2009
it helped a million Germans a week—not 60,000 but a million—and its most
recent figure is 1.5 million. Germany is not some kind of welfare wasteland,
where no help is available. That makes me think that supply is what is driving
the growth…
The second piece of evidence… on which I draw is the experience of the social
fund in 2006. The previous Labour Government did four things: it reduced the
rate of repayment; it extended the time over which people could repay their
social fund loan; it increased the amount of money that people could borrow;
and it made the fund much more accessible, by enabling individuals to access it
by telephone, which took away the face-to-face challenge that used to go on in
jobcentres.
In the space of three years, the number of applications for crisis loans trebled. It
is ironic that, at the time, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Opposition
said that that was evidence of greater welfare problems and more crises. It was
not; what we had done was expand a service for people who have not got very
much money, and—surprise, surprise—they applied for it’.
‘That is why, in my view, it is supply-led growth that is going on, which will
continue over the years ahead, whatever the path of welfare policies. We live in a
society in which we have poor people and rich people, and people will
maximise their economic choices. That is just how economies work.’

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