Category Archives: Food Banks

The UK’s food bank shame will not be solved by Tories like Lee Anderson

Lee Anderson (right) with his leader Boris Johnson: no wonder Anderson thinks he can get away with a Big Lie when his boss is the biggest liar of them all.

This MP is a disgrace to his Ashfield constituency.

He stood up in the House of Commons and admitted that his local food bank won’t give out desperately-needed parcels to people unless they sign up to take a course in budgeting and cooking skills – but you’ll notice he never said anything about whether such courses were effective in reducing demand.

Mr Anderson invited MPs to visit a food bank in his Nottinghamshire constituency where he said people “have to register for a budgeting course and a cooking course” if they receive parcels.

“We show them how to cook cheap and nutritious meals on a budget,” he added. “We can make a meal for about 30p a day and this is cooking from scratch.”

“There’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. We’ve got generation after generation who can not cook properly… they can not budget.”

Here’s video of what he said, along with some of the more well-informed comments by opposition MPs:

As usual, though, the best commentary on this came from the food writer and blogger Jack Monroe, who slated Anderson’s comment in an LBC interview:

“It’s not a lack of skills or knowledge that is causing people to struggle in food poverty in this country…it’s the lack of resources, it’s the lack of finances.

“It’s not that people don’t know what to do with a bag of pasta, it’s that they don’t have the 29p to buy it in the first place.

“Helping somebody conditional on them saying ‘you know what, I’m a terrible kind of poor person, this is all my own fault, please teach me how to be better at being poor’, is disgusting, actually.

“In his own constituency one in three live in poverty…I don’t think he’s the one to be touting the solution.”

Jack, who is a genuine national treasure, went further on the Cooking on a Bootstrap website, reminding us all of the main reasons people can’t afford food any more – and the fatal results of these Conservative Party policies:

If the ‘let them eat 30p meals’ brigade were really concerned for the welfare of people suffering, and I mean suffering, under the worst cost of living crisis this country has known for decades, they would take heed from the thousands of stories of people who have died at the hands of the callous DWP machine, and the people who enthusiastically grease its sharp and unforgiving cogs.

Stephanie Bottrill, a mother of three who was so concerned about the impact that the bedroom tax would have on her family, that she walked out in front of an articulated lorry.

Phillipa Day, whose overdose resulted in a coroners report stating that the flaws in her PIP assessment led to her death. A nine day inquest uncovered multiple failings by both the DWP and the private sector contractor Capita in the handling of her case. The coroner issued the DWP a PFD report – Prevention Of Future Deaths – which was supposed to force them to make significant changes to the system in order to prevent this entirely needless tragedy from ever happening again. Did they implement the recommended changes? Of course not. Not then, and not after multiple more coroners reports and PFDs from multiple subsequent deaths in similar circumstances.

Jodey Whiting took her own life after her benefits were stopped. Her family received a letter endorsing the DWPs actions, incorrectly stating that Jodey was fit to work, and mailed it to them as their daughter lay in a mortuary, awaiting her untimely and again, utterly preventable, burial. Following her death, and with his life thrown into utter turmoil at the loss of his mother, her 19 year old son Cory also killed himself.

I have thousands of these stories, each and every one a heartbreakingly familiar narrative: a vulnerable person denied absolutely vital assistance, unable to bear the pain of a day to day life scrabbling at the periphery of insecurity and just-about-survival, choosing a devastatingly permanent ending to a story that they didn’t get the luxury of choosing their own adventure in. God, they didn’t even get the luxury of choosing their own living accommodation, the colour of their front doors, or the meagre combination of basic store cupboard staples that made up their dinners.

What kind of world do we live in, where these horrific and very real examples of destitution and desperation are not a clarion call for an immediate overhaul of a barbaric and repeatedly proven fatal ideology?

And it begs the point, that with several hundred thousand pounds of full time staff at their disposal to do the everyday grunt work, you’d think that MPs would use a fraction of that generous budget to actually do some research in their chosen field.

Yes indeed. Lee Anderson’s most recent expenses claim alone came to £220,000. That will have included the cost of employing his support staff, so the question goes straight to the point.

The painful reality is that when most basic of human needs costs more than the meagre payments that the recipients are forced to subsist on, cheap pasta and canned beans aren’t going to make a jot of difference unless you’re willing to stuff them up your jumper and make a run for it. Those that claim to be the party of clever economics and fiscal responsibility would do well to remember this simple truth: the square root of fuck all is always going to be absolutely fuck all, no matter how creatively you’re told to to dice it.

I make no apology for the strong language; sometimes people need to be told the facts in the hardest possible terms, just so they’ll sink in.

You’ll hear it again in the following video rant from another great social media icon, Cornish Damo:

Sadly, This Writer doubts that any amount of factual argument will persuade people like Anderson to change their tune, because they believe in the tactic the Tories stole (back) from the Nazi propagandist Goebbels: The Big Lie.

Anderson thinks if he keeps repeating, often enough, the lie that poverty is entirely the fault of people who are poor, and not of those who have deprived them of decent, affordable food, housing, energy, water and all the other necessities of life, we will all eventually believe that lie.

It’s up to you to prove him wrong.

ADDITIONAL: This could be very embarrassing for Mr Anderson:

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Backlash against former PM Cameron after social media foodbank post

Russian connection: while we’re panning David Cameron for his shameless exploitation of the food banks whose use exploded under his premiership, let’s remember that he was also a close friend of Vladimir Putin’s Russian government.

The politician most closely associated with the surge in UK foodbank use has actually had the nerve to fanfare his volunteer work in one.

David Cameron’s harsh anti-social policies pushed foodbank use up by 2,612 per cent while he was prime minister.

No wonder people rushed to condemn his ill-advised attempt at self-publicity:

Probably the best put-down was by left-wing journalist Owen Jones.

He tweeted that it was like a ‘serial arsonist joining the local fire brigade’.

Source: David Cameron faces foodbank backlash after posting about his volunteer work

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The social care system is being ruined by profiteers [Also in the news]

This window-writing may have been by a child in care, but it might equally have been written by an adult – or by one of the people employed to care for either of them.

The demand for profit is causing huge harm to the private care system, it has been claimed.

Investor returns have become more important than quality care and workers’ pay, according to research.

Private equity, hedge funds and real estate investment trusts have brought in predatory financial techniques, justified in the name of enticing capital into a sector that the government has persistently failed to adequately fund.

Boris Johnson promised to overhaul the system, more than two years ago. He has yet to lift a finger.

That’s unless you include his government’s Covid-19 strategy that killed – what – 30,000 care home residents, at least?

Also in the news:

Charities are warning that foodbank use will rocket if the Universal Credit cut goes ahead

But the Tories have been pushing more and more people into food poverty. It is their policy.

So why would they care?

Iain Duncan Smith wants civil servants to go back to working in the office

The former Tory leader thinks it’s necessary “because there’s an ecosystem around them made up of cafes, restaurants bars, even theatres and other areas that give people jobs and without people back in their offices, going out for sandwiches, you know, coffees, etcetera that ecosystem will collapse and people will lose their jobs”.

Business chief asks Johnson to save firms from the damage done by Brexit – and goes unanswered

In response, Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK has asked why business leaders are putting up with Johnson.

A reader responded that they are probably waiting for the Tories to further reduce workers rights and financial reporting standards, while another pointed out that Johnson made his position clear three years ago when he said, “F*ck business.”

Abbott calls for end to Patel’s cruel mass deportation flights

The fourth mass deportation flight to Jamaica since the Windrush Scandal will leave the UK today (August 11), showing that Home Secretary Priti Patel and her boss Boris Johnson have learned nothing from it.

The excuse is that the deportees are all dangerous criminals – except they aren’t, according to Labour’s Diane Abbott. And they have served the sentence for their crime.

In fact, they are being subjected to double jeopardy, which should be illegal in UK law – penalising people twice for the same crime. It is imposed because the deportees are not white.

And finally:

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Viral image of soup kitchen queue has an important hidden message for voters

I’ve only made the message clear.

The image above (sans speech bubble), showing 220 people queueing in sub-zero temperatures to enter a soup kitchen in Glasgow, has gone viral – and has been shared thousands of times.

Many have called it out as an indictment against the Tory government that has failed to tackle  worsening poverty crisis.

But here’s the hidden point:

Posting on Facebook Graeme Weir compared it to “some Eastern European Country that’s been decimated by years of communist rule”.

Funny that – considering so many UK voters were practically ordered not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in December 2019, for fear that he would create a Communist dystopia.

It seems that, in fact, Boris Johnson created that nightmare future himself – and actually put voters off supporting the man who could have prevented it.

Source: Heartbreaking picture of snowy food bank queue goes viral

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What will you say when they ask what you did in the class war?


I seem to have hit a nerve when I said the Tories are waging a class war on anyone who isn’t filthy rich.

In fact, two Vox Political articles touched on this class war – the first implied it, the second made it explicit.

Today I opened Twitter to discover those words all over the place:

I’m not claiming credit for calling a thing by its name – this is “multiple discovery”, “simultaneous invention”, “synchronicity” or, if you like, an expression of the “zeitgeist”. More and more people are simply coming to realise, understand and accept that it is the policy of the UK’s Conservative government to push them down unfairly.

That is what the decision – and it was a decision, deliberately made – to punish ‘A’ level pupils who weren’t from private schools was all about. Yes, Gavin Williamson and the other Tories are saying it was down to a mechanical system, an algorithm – but that algorithm was written by a human being who intended it to give an advantage to the children of very rich people.

In this way, the Tory class war has stolen your children’s futures and given them to the undeserving rich.

It’s what the decision  – and it was a decision, deliberately made – not to fight Covid-19 in any meaningful way was all about. Tens of thousands of people in care homes have died – your relatives, maybe – because Matt Hancock and the other Tories said people with Covid-19 who lived in those homes should be sent back to them – never mind the fact that they did not have isolation facilities and the virus would run through those places like wildfire and be transferred to others by part-time staff who worked in different homes run by the same – private – firm.

The Tories – and their private business collaborators – failed to source personal protective equipment, ventilators, tests and the facilities to carry out tests. The lockdown they imposed was half-hearted and failed to stop the progress of the disease. Now that they have lifted it, albeit with a few measures still in place, more people are contracting the virus again. So they have stopped reporting the daily number of infections.

And the Tories have rewarded their private business collaborators for their failures with hugely expensive contracts to continue failing us – all at the public expense. Serco’s test and trace contract has been renewed, even though we know it won’t stop any second wave (really just a resurgence of the first wave that was suppressed but never went away).

You won’t get justice against the Tories by the normal means available to civil society because the Tories have either corrupted them already or are in the process of doing so. Boris Johnson illegally terminated Parliament’s last session in the autumn of 2019 and what was the result? He called a general election, lied to us until he was purple in the face and was rewarded with an 80-seat Parliamentary majority.

Now he is using that power to ensure that the courts will not be able to stop any more of his corruption by planning a curb on judicial review of government activity. He is imposing a dictatorship – just as he told you he would, if you could have been bothered to read page 48 of his election manifesto.

The police won’t help. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and the others are all above the law – no matter what they do. Try reporting a cabinet minister for a crime and see how far you get. They’ll tell you they’re treating it seriously, bounce the accusation around a few different departments and then say there’s no evidence. I’ve been there.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died already because it is Tory policy to kill claimants of sickness or disability claimants, who they consider to be “useless eaters”. That’s why the newspapers have been full of reports showing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities starving to death.

They wanted your homes so they imposed the Bedroom Tax and took them away from you.

The list goes on and on.

And still, too many people think they are the best choice to run the UK – even though the economy is in its deepest recession ever, and Brexit means it may never recover. You will suffer – they won’t. They have been stockpiling your cash and will simply use it to sit out any unpleasantness in the future.

But I feel sure a tipping-point will come – a flashpoint. I wonder how much we will all have to lose before that happens. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty much everything.

By then, many people may think there is nothing they can do. I am reminded yet again of Martin Niemoller’s poem about how the Nazis came for different groups who received no help from anybody else until, by the time they come for the author, there was nobody even left for him to ask.

But I am reminded of another group who were put in a similar position. When I visited Bosnia in the 1990s, I was told how – when the tanks from other countries moved in – the people, who were weaponless, left their homes and went up into the hills. They came back at night, when they took weapons – and lives – from the soldiers who had taken everything from them. And slowly, they took back their land from their oppressors.

I can see that happening here in the future.

I would rather it didn’t.

But it will, if people of good conscience don’t wake up, get up and put up a fight.

Keir Starmer won’t do it. He agrees with the Tories. That’s why he’s busy turning the Labour Party into Tory Lite Mk II (New Labour was Mk I) and accusing anybody who disagrees with him of anti-Semitism.

If you don’t want this to fall into violence, then you need to think what else you can do.

The ‘A’ level fiasco creates opportunities. Already some further education institutions have said they will take students who were downgraded, on the basis of their predicted results. Some haven’t. Clearly we should take note of the side that each University, each college, takes. Those who do the right thing should be rewarded in whatever ways we can. Those who do not should be shunned – meaning not only that we should not even try to send our children there, but that we should reject their graduates when they seek employment with our businesses. We know they won’t be any damn good anyway.

And employers who turn down applicants on the basis of the Tory algorithm’s discredited results should also be named, so we can stop buying their products.

That’s the best – non-violent – response I can conceive on the spur of the moment, and these things need to start happening now.

We’d better get to it, if we don’t want to roll over and die. And yes, that means you.

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Covid class war: Tories are forcing food poverty through the roof as poor people face risk of poisoning

Tory legacy: attendance at food banks has doubled due to the Conservatives’ handling of Covid-19.

How is Fat Boris Johnson going to justify his silly campaign to make people eat more healthily when so many of us are getting money from food banks, or buying the cheapest (and therefore least healthy) available because we can’t afford anything else?

A new report by the Food Standards Agency has revealed that the Covid-19 crisis – and the Conservative government’s decisions relating to it – have caused a huge increase in referrals to food banks.

Because the Tories couldn’t be bothered to ensure the financial security of the population at large, one-tenth of the UK’s poorest people are now using foodbanks, with huge numbers of people skipping meals.

Malnutrition and obesity are rife as people have been forced to cut out healthy foods in favour of “basic sustenance” diets.

People actually voted to inflict this on their fellow UK citizens and their children.

The FSA’s research tells us that the number of people in food insecurity in the UK – experiencing hunger, unable to secure food of sufficient quality and quantity to enable good health and social participation, and cutting down on food because of a lack of money – has doubled due to the Covid crisis. And it was high in the first place.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, around 16 per cent of adults experienced it – around 7.8 million people.

The government that the people elected last December has used the Covid crisis to double this figure. Now, around 15.6 million adults are in food insecurity.

So when the FSA says 10 per cent of respondents visited a food bank in June, this represents more than 1.5 million people.

And we know food banks have been struggling to find stock in the face of this demand, at a time when everybody has lost money apart from the super-rich (most of whom couldn’t care less about you).

The survey found that 23 per cent of people aged 16-24 had been forced to access food through a charity or food bank – but no figures were provided to show how many people that figure represents.

The only other group experiencing as much food insecurity was households with a child.

So the Tories have ensured that poor children are starving – even after having been knocked back in their plan to deny free school meals to poor kids during the holidays by footballer Marcus Rashford’s high-profile shaming.

If you are still in doubt that these findings are evidence of a Tory war against the poor, consider this, from the Guardian article about the FSA findings:

For the better off, Covid-19 has for many provided nutritional benefits, the FSA noted, with its tracker survey showing more people cooking at home from scratch using healthy ingredients rather than having takeaways or buying processed meals, as well as enjoying more family meals together.

These benefits were largely denied to people in food insecurity, whose diet narrowed sharply and was biased towards cheap carbohydrates like rice and pasta. One man, the FSA study found, “ate mostly tinned peas on toast; another woman mostly bread.” Many showed “early signs” of malnutrition. Others put on weight.

Many people … reported regularly eating food beyond its use-by date … Over a quarter said they drank milk that was past its use-by date. “Stretching out” food in this way put them at risk of food poisoning.

So the rich have become healthier while the poor are in danger of being poisoned.

This is due to decisions made by your Conservative government, which they say were necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

And they are inflicting it on people they persuaded into voting for them.

Source: UK’s poorest ‘skip meals and go hungry’ during coronavirus crisis | UK news | The Guardian

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The Tory squeeze is on: one in four adults are struggling to buy food in Covid-19 pandemic

A few coppers and some silver coins: all the Tories think you’re worth.

The Tories are using the Covid-19 crisis to force more of the UK’s struggling population into poverty, it seems, with increasing reliance on food banks as disposable incomes plummet:

One in four adults in the UK have struggled to access food they can afford during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving them susceptible to hunger and potential malnutrition, a new report warns.

Research by Feeding Britain and Northumbria University’s Healthy Living Lab indicates a far broader group of households, in addition to the poorest, are now struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, often following a loss of earnings or problems with the benefits system.

The findings, based on a survey with 1,004 responses, shows nearly 25 per cent of adults looking after children have eaten less during the pandemic so they can feed them, while half have tried to cope by buying less expensive food they would not ordinarily choose to buy – a figure that rises to nine in 10 among adults who live in the poorest households.

Even strategies commonly used during lockdown – such as buying less expensive food, borrowing food, using food banks and restricting the food eaten – have not enabled adults to become food secure and live free of hunger and potential malnutrition, the report says.

It comes after figures published earlier this month revealed demand for food banks is greater than ever – with The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest network of food banks, handing out 89 per cent more food parcels in April compared with the same month last year, while the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) recorded a 175 per cent increase over the same period.

This is not an accident.

Other countries’ governments have been able to support their people through the crisis – most of them much poorer than the UK.

So this is a conscious choice by your Conservative masters; they are using Covid-19 to put you firmly in your place.

It seems they think that place is in debt – and this should come as no surprise. People who have to work long, hard hours trying to pay off debts that (no doubt) are increasing in spite of those efforts have no time or energy left to question the corrupt antics of their political leaders.

Think about that when you open your bank statement and find it is red.

Source: ‘Uphill struggle’: One in four adults struggling to afford food during coronavirus pandemic, study finds | The Independent

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Struggling food banks move towards home deliveries. Why not deliver government packages?

Food bank: they’re struggling in the coronavirus crisis, and diversifying into home delivery. Why not link up with the government, which is doing the same?

Duplication is a waste of effort.

But it seems both the government and the food bank network are arranging deliveries to people who have become vulnerable, including because of the coronavirus crisis.

Why don’t they just work together?

Many [food banks] are attempting to switch gears and move into the home delivery of emergency food packages.

Food banks across the UK are struggling to stay open as the coronavirus outbreak continues to cause a sharp decline in volunteers and a shortage of food donations.

It comes as a new survey revealed the scale of the hunger crisis facing Britain. Some 1.5 million people reported not eating for a whole day during the first three weeks of lockdown, according to a YouGov poll for The Food Foundation.

[In the new system,] drivers deliver to people struggling with job losses, cuts in income or difficultly getting outside for health reasons.

Source: Help the Hungry: Food banks move towards home deliveries amid struggle to keep doors open | The Independent

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Supermarket and superstar donate cash for coronavirus causes; Johnson remains a super-dud

James McAvoy: his contribution will help medical staff treat thousands of people.

Remember when B&M donated £1 million to food banks to bridge the supply gap caused by coronavirus?

We all praised that company to the hilt.

So let’s give at least as much praise to Morrisons for donating 10 times as much to food banks – in fresh food from its bakery, egg and fruit & vegetable packing sites.

And the supermarket firm is also encouraging donations by converting its now-closed in-store cafes into donation hubs.

And let’s also praise movie star James McAvoy, who has donated £275,000 of his own money to a crowdfunding campaign set up by doctors to raise money for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, visors and gloves.

Despite a claim by the government that there was no shortage of PPE, this has proved to be untrue. Three NHS doctors have died of coronavirus (so far) and we must ascribe some of those deaths to the fact that they have been treating people who have the disease – without the benefit of this vital equipment. Medical staff have likened the situation to “going to war without armour and protection”.

Mr McAvoy’s donation has hugely boosted the fund, which original had a target of £200,000 – only a fraction of his own donation. His contribution brought the total to £440,000 and it seems likely to hit its new target of half a million pounds.

The equipment this will buy will be a huge boost to the NHS – not just for the protection it will provide but also for the morale of medical staff.

Contrast this with the behaviour of Boris Johnson – who is spaffing £5.8 million on a letter to every UK household, telling us things we know already.

The letter has been well-trailed by the media. This Writer’s impression was that the only way it would do any good is if it was printed on paper that is soft, strong and absorbent (if you take my meaning).

Johnson would have served the public better by using the cash to buy more of the equipment we need to beat the virus.

Sadly, we have a prime minister who is more concerned with public relations than public service.

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B&M is donating £1million to UK food banks to fight coronavirus-related supply gap

This is wonderful news and B&M has set an excellent example for other businesses to follow.

I hope they will.

Food banks have been struggling as members of the public quit funding and donating to them in order to panic-buy goods in anticipation of the coronavirus crisis.

Discount retailer B&M [has] announced a national £1 million donation to support UK food banks.

Each one of its 670 stores will support a local foodbank with a £1,500 donation of food, cleaning and personal hygiene goods to reach struggling families.

Source: B&M is donating £1million to UK food banks amid coronavirus crisis – Birmingham Live

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