No food for thought?

It is telling enough in itself that such figures and all they imply no longer shock us anymore. David Christie reports: “New figures released by the Trussell Trust show that the food bank charity provided emergency parcels containing three days food more than 600,000 times between April and December last year.  This is more than in the whole of the preceding financial year.

The charity also released poll results showing that 70 per cent of voters want the government to take action on the issue of hunger, and that 50 per cent of families have cut back on food in the previous year in order to pay bills.

This comes as Tories such as Lord Freud have been making derogatory remarks about those who have to use food banks. Lord Freud said that it was “very hard to know why” people used food banks.

There was also the incident during a Commons debate on food banks in December, in which Tory MPs laughed and jeered at a description by Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart of hard-up shoppers fighting over discounted supermarket products.

Talking about the debate, Labour MP Barry Gardiner said that it was “extraordinary” to see Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith smirking as it was mentioned that half a million people are using food banks. IDS left the Commons chamber after an hour and did not answer questions, leaving this task to his deputy Esther McVey. He also accused the Trussell Trust of “scaremongering“.

In a further example of Tory insensitivity on this issue, Tory MEPs voted against the creation of a £3 million EU fund accessible to food banks in the European Parliament last month.

But now even Policy Exchange, a right-wing think tank with links to leading Tories, has been voicing criticism of the government’s approach. Their new report Smarter Sanctions: Sorting out the system finds that 68,000 people on Jobseeker’s Allowance have their benefits taken away by mistake every year, and that this has contributed to the rise in the number of people using food banks.” (

Similarly, Michael Meacher writes: “The latest figures collected by Oxfam indicate nearly a million persons have been ‘sanctioned’ (i.e. deprived of all benefits for a month for the first infringement, often trivial, for 3 months for the second, and 3 years for the third) in the last 15 months and that the numbers using foodbanks are now well over half a million.

Yet bankers are still leading the life of Riley at the public expense without any being brought to book. Barclays under the so-called Jenkins ‘clean-up’ act has just stunned even the City by increasing bonuses by by 10% despite profits collapsing by 32%.

All the Big 4 – HSBC, Barclays, RBS and Lloyds – have shown contempt for restraint by circumventing the new EU rule limiting bonuses to 200% of salary by paying a totally artificial ‘allowance’ far exceeding this limit. HSBC have thus paid their chief executive an ‘allowance’ worth £32,000 a week on top of his £1.6m salary.

Barclays is the bank which took the lead in rigging Libor and HSBC was arraigned for money-laundering on behalf of drug cartels, terrorists and pariah states. Despite this background of big-time criminal activity amid soaraway boardroom greed, not one of the miscreants at the top of these organisations has been collared.” (

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