Such is the increase in demand that Birmingham Central Foodbank have launched a Harvest Campaign to encourage donations.
This comes alongside news from a survey by the Guardian Teacher Network that large numbers of pupils are coming into school hungry, with nearly a sixth of teachers saying they spend up to £25/month of their own money on basic foodstuffs for the students to eat. Schools themselves are facing budget cuts and many have reduced provision of breakfast clubs.
Delays in processing benefits and sanctions placed on claimants are amongst the most common reasons for people to look for food banks to help them, and from October 22nd sanctions will be increased to a maximum of 3 years for unemployed people, whilst disabled people will find sanctions increased to 70% of their benefits for an indefinite period of time.
The rise in need for food banks is one of the most telling outcomes of this government’s failing austerity agenda, and the welfare cuts regime. As Universal Credit is introduced next year, the situation can only be expected to worsen, as advice services become overwhelmed. Cuts to council tax benefit will take an average £5/week out of many people’s pockets, whilst cuts to housing benefit will bring increased homelessness to our city.
The Tories will not step in to correct the situation as they do not believe in the social security of the welfare state, and would like to see everything handled by charities, uncertain of their income or ability to provide services, with poor people made to beg for handouts if they find that they haven’t been able to compete with 20,000 other people for one of the jobs at Jaguar Land Rover.
If you think this state of affairs is wrong, and want to see alternative economic policies to ensure the recession ends as soon as possible and that noone is driven to destitution, then come down to London on Saturday to join the TUC national demonstration for a future that works. Free coach spaces are available for unwaged and low paid people in Birmingham.