Huge cuts to benefits are virtually ignored in the report into foodbanks published today by an unholy trinity of opportunistic Labour hasbeens, out of touch Bishops and austerity cheering Tories.
The growth in foodbanks dates back to before the current Government weren’t elected as Labour’s decimation of the social security started to take its toll. The rise in benefit sanctions also began in the dying years of Labour’s administration as did the introduction of the despised Atos run Work Capability Assessment, designed to strip sickness and disability benefits from one million people. Alongside this Labour’s normalisation of workfare led to unprecedented numbers of people forced to work without pay.
And then, as if things weren’t bad enough, along came Iain Duncan Smith. With him came the bedroom tax, council tax benefit cuts, the benefit cap, housing benefit cuts, freezes of almost all in and out of work benefits, more Atos tests for disability benefits, the scrapping of Crisis Loans and countless other measures all precision targeted at cutting the incomes of the poorest.
Yet to read today’s report into foodbanks, you would think that none of this had ever happened. Instead it insists that the growth in people going hungry has been caused by market forces and modern economic conditions – beyond the control of us mere mortals and simply something that is here to stay no matter what we do.
It is true that alongside the slow dismantling of the welfare state, the minimum wage stagnated whilst the cost of living for the very poorest soared. The erosion of social housing meant the greedy private rental sector became out of control as competition for low cost housing became ever more intense. As supermarket dominance grew, small local shops closed and with them out of the way food prices began to rise. A privatised energy market did exactly what you would expect from profit hungry vultures and fleeced their most voiceless customers, often elderly or disabled people who have no choice but to try and keep the heating on. Payday lenders and pawn shops started to appear on every high street. In some areas wherever you look you will see companies owned by the rich dressed up in pauper’s clothing as they attempt to wring every last penny of profit they can from the poor.
All of these things are a direct result of government policies supported by all the major parties to allow the parasites of capital – landlords, supermarkets, energy companies and legal loan sharks – to run rampant in the name of the free market.
But you won’t read that in today’s report either. Instead it proposes tinkering with the rules on prepay gas and electricity metres, vague and unspecific policies to slightly edge up the minimum wage and yet more patronising fucking garbage about cooking lessons and budgeting skills. Meanwhile calls for benefit payments to be made quicker are redundant when the government is planning a waiting period of up to six weeks for Universal Credit. This is not even mentioned in the report. They are not just willfully ignoring the cuts to social security that have already happened, but also the ones that are still set to come.
The huge rise in the number of people who face benefits being stopped or sanctioned has mirrored almost exactly the growth of foodbanks. An ever more complex and draconian system now forces unemployed, sick and disabled claimants into pointless and irksome ‘work related activity’ for days, weeks and even months on end. Any breach of the rules means benefits are stopped. The report endorses this increased “responsibility to look for work”, calling it a “welcome move”.
Instead it merely makes the same calls for improvements in communications with claimants and access to hardship payments that we have heard before. These bastards really think it is okay to leave someone in desperate poverty for missing a meeting with the Jobcentre as long as you write them a nice letter explaining why. This comes with a proposal for a condescending ‘yellow card’ warning system, which was first suggested by the Tory think tank the Policy Exchange. You can see their thinking on this one. Poor people like football after all, so it will be easy for our little minds to understand.
Even this comes with conditions attached. Whilst they recommend claimants be given a warning with the chance to explain “their offence” before a sanction is applied, it suggests that this could come with an “additional requirement” to be met. This might as well be to go outside and hop on one leg for half an hour whilst quacking like a duck for all the good most Jobcentre requirements do to help people find work. Punishing people for their poverty is behind this idea, not helping them find jobs.
Those behind the report are adamant that nothing can be done to halt the rise in the use of foodbanks. But abolishing benefit sanctions completely would slash the number of people going hungry in the UK overnight. As would scrapping the bedroom tax, council tax reform and halting George Osborne’s benefit freeze. In time honoured tradition however, politicians are clubbing together to say a functioning welfare state is over, time to move on and bring food parcels into the social security system.
That is the real reason for this report. It wasn’t written because Frank Field and his vile Tory counterparts really give a shit about people going hungry. Instead it is an attempt to sign off Iain Duncan Smith’s vicious reforms as part of the political landscape and move the argument on to how we can best hand out tins of Tesco value baked beans to the starving and destitute. They will argue about that forever now. We cannot let the bastards get away with this. The growth of hunger in the UK did not happen by accident, it has been socially engineered. And the people who did that are the same vermin politicians who write reports telling us how terrible and inevitable it is.
You can read the report at: http://foodpovertyinquiry.org/
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