Tag Archives: food bank

Backlash against Sunak’s ‘meal deal’ voucher scheme that ignores people in genuine need

Members of the public are speaking out against Rishi Sunak’s offer of vouchers supporting half the price of eating out – pointing out that people need to be able to afford the other half of the cost before they can use it at all.

It’s an upper-middle-class jolly that won’t help people who rely on food banks, or carers, or beleaguered NHS staff who Sunak’s own government is persecuting, they say – rightly.

And they say the decision to offer meal vouchers was in very poor taste when Boris Johnson was keen to stop providing such vouchers to parents of children who receive free school meals over the summer holidays, even though the Covid-19 crisis has put many of them in extreme need.

Here’s just a selection of the responses. See if you agree with them, rather than Sunak:

(Good point about the self-employed.)

https://twitter.com/CptPicardigan/status/1280947082879254528

Yes, what a world.

To think that we could have had fairness under a Jeremy Corbyn government instead, if only people had engaged their brains before going to the polling booths last year.

Come to that, isn’t it incredible that it is too much to hope for people to engage their brains before voting?

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How many people does the government owe because of Universal Credit payday prejudice?

Let’s answer the question in the headline straight away: it seems 85,000 people may be able to claim compensation because the government deliberately failed to stop people getting less Universal Credit if their payday comes early because of a weekend or bank holiday.

Judges at the Court of Appeal have ruled that it was “irrational” for the Department for Work and Pensions – and the Secretary of State in particular – to ignore the fact that computer systems would assume that claimant had received double the money expected and cancel their payments.

The Conservative government has spent two years fighting this court case – indicating that, despite being well aware of the issue, Tories were determined to continue depriving some of the poorest workers in the UK of vital benefits.

Are they sadists? Or perverts?

Certainly perverts, it seems. In her judgment, Lady Justice Rose described the situation as “perverse”.

But decide for yourself.

The three judges at the Court of Appeal unanimously ruled that the Work and Pensions Secretary acted irrationally and unlawfully by making Universal Credit regulations which fail to take into account that the date monthly salaries are paid can vary because of weekends and bank holidays.

The Government had taken the case to the Court of Appeal after single mother Danielle Johnson, along with three other mothers supported by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), won a High Court legal challenge.

They said the Government’s interpretation of regulation 54 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 meant some months she would receive much less in universal credit than in others.

Ms Johnson is paid on the last working day of each month and her benefit assessment period runs from the last day of the month to the penultimate day of the following month. When a weekend is at the end of a month, this means her wages go into her bank account earlier than in other months.

The Universal Credit computer system interpreted this as Ms Johnson having earned twice as much in one month and none in others, so her payment would be calculated accordingly.

It resulted in extreme fluctuations in her income and – in several months – she lost the work allowance part of the UC payment, meaning she was around £500 per year worse off.

If 85,000 people lost the same amount, that means the government was stopping them from receiving £42.5 million a year – not a lot in terms of a national government’s budget.

So why did the Tories create a system that forced this hardship on vulnerable women (among others)?

Why spend more money defending this irrational persecution of vulnerable women?

We can only conclude that this is yet more evidence that the Tories simply enjoy making poor people suffer.

And it worked: Ms Johnson suffered severe cash flow problems and between them, the four mothers fell into rent arrears, defaulted on council tax, incurred bank overdraft charges, borrowed money and even become reliant on food banks to make ends meet.

Lady Justice Rose commented that Ms Johnson “expresses her doubts whether she will ever be able to get back on top of her finances and worries that cash flow problems will mean she is unable to pay her rent, jeopardising her tenancy”.

We should also discuss the Tory government’s defence, which seems to be that changing the system would cost too much. It’s always about money with this mob, isn’t it?

So the court was told that any change to the computer system would cost at least £7.35 million – a fraction of what the government has saved each year by withholding money from 85,000 claimants.

And the Tories said there would need to be a wholesale move away from automation back to manual calculation in order to accommodate the changes demanded by the judges.

This would be an admission that the whole Universal Credit project – that was intended to be “digital by default” – is a failure.

And it’s doubtful that there’s any truth in the claim. Computer programs can be quite adaptable – or at least, they can in the hands of people who don’t have an agenda that involves the persecution of the vulnerable.

Of course the question arising from this is: what happens next?

Will the government automatically calculate the back payments owed to many tens of thousands of UC claimants and pay them?

I think we all know the answer to that!

Will the Tories change the law to ensure that this situation is not allowed to arise in the future?

Or will they try to find another way to contest the ruling? Delay any payments resulting from it? Otherwise try to ignore the decision of the court?

What do you think?

Source: Four Single Mums Win Court Of Appeal Universal Credit Case | Leigh Day

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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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Coronavirus UK: Are the Tories deliberately trying to increase the hysteria?

Only one element unifies the constant babble about coronavirus from the UK’s Tory government at the moment: it is contradictory, confusing and seems designed to increase hysteria, rather than reduce it.

For a start: what’s with the policy of drip-feeding information via individuals or single media sites, rather than broadcasting updates to everyone in regular press conferences and on the government website?

Today we see Matt Hancock – behind a paywall – on the Torygraph website, contradicting the government’s announcement last week that the Tories would be seeking to establish ‘herd immunity’ by allowing us all to be infected, thereby condemning the oldest and weakest of us to death.

Here is that article in full. The Telegraph‘s owners should be run out of the country for putting profit before lives:

That previous announcement was made by scientific advisor Patrick Vallance. His latest advice is in The Sun. I haven’t seen it because I won’t willingly visit that paper’s website and the physical copies are only good to be snapped up by people who need toilet paper as a result of the government-induced panic-buying we’ve all seen.

Robert Peston has been parrotting information he’s been given. Did he even know it was accurate before he repeated it? My understanding is no.

Is it, as Carole Cadwalladr suggests, an attempt to avoid these leaks being attributed to individual ministers who can then be questioned over the validity of their decisions?

Worse still is the claim that people attacking this strategy are “politicising” the corona crisis.

We had this after This Site pointed out the political implications of the Grenfell Tower inferno, back in 2017. I was vindicated, of course – Grenfell has been a scandal that has rumbled on to this very day.

The simple fact is that coronavirus is already political. As Grace Blakely points out here, people have already died as a result of political decisions and the only question is whether those decisions can reduce the toll.

At the moment, it seems that Boris Johnson and his government, by flip-flopping through the crisis, adopting one strategy for a couple of days and then denying it in favour of another, are doing everything they can to create chaos, boost hysteria and ramp up the human cost.

Consider South Korea, the country generally accepted to have got the best grip on the spread of coronavirus. Here’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha explaining to Andrew Marr that testing people for the virus is vital… followed by a tweet showing that the UK government has abandoned that vital testing:

Is this a death sentence for old and vulnerable people?

Oh – and apparently the old and vulnerable could be arrested if they don’t quarantine themselves:

So it seems we’re being faced with a situation in which the people most vulnerable to the virus are being told to hide themselves away from society for weeks at a time.

What happens then? Will we see government vans roaming our streets and suburbs, calling for you to “Bring out your dead”?

There will be a knock-on effect again food banks, most of which have already been harmed by the panic-buying spree:

So the “Bring out your dead” vans will remain gainfully employed, picking up the bodies of the underpaid workers whose wages the Tories have been sitting on for so many years.

Evidence is piling up to show that the National Health Service – weakened to a constant crisis point by 10 years of Tory underfunding – is simply unable to cope with the extra workload of thousands (if not millions) of COVID-19 patients. This is the opinion of the British Medical Association, as you can see here.

Already Hancock has admitted that the service doesn’t have enough ventilators:

So he’s trying to buy some more, or get manufacturers to make them:

But it’s an ill wind that blows no good to anybody: the Tories’ friends in private medicine are set to rake in £2.4 million every day, loaning out 8,000 beds to the NHS.

That’s more than 3,000 fewer beds than the Tories closed between 2010 and 2017 (I have yet to find figures leading up to the present day)!

Meanwhile, the crisis is revealing hard truths about ourselves:

There is only one conclusion to draw from the above: Don’t trust the Tory government. You’ll be putting your life in the hands of people who simply couldn’t care less.

I think it was Tim Fenton, on his Zelo Street blog, who said Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings and their cronies simply aren’t equipped to provide information; they offer information warfare – strong on falsehood and misinformation. And they can’t seem to stop.

Call me a raging conspiracy theorist if you like, but the thought has crossed my mind that everything we’re experiencing right now could be a sign of Johnson putting those eugenics ideas into practise – you know, the ideas about cleaning the gene pool of weaknesses and impurities for which Andrew Sabisky had to resign his job as a government advisor. We have enough evidence to conclude that Johnson supports those views, as does Cummings.

So we can’t trust the government.

How about relying on something we’ve had a lot longer.

Where’s our common sense? People have had to cope with disease epidemics – of this very kind – for centuries. Why not go back to tried-and-trusted remedies, at least while the politicians and the medics try to sort themselves out?

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Panic-buyers are starving food bank users of milk and other essentials

Vital: but the shelves of this Salford food bank may be fast emptying as donations of food and money fail in the panic over coronavirus.

What is this modern fad of panic-buying all the time? The current phase – prompted by the coronavirus – could do more to starve the poor than years of Tory persecution.

Panic-buying isn’t a new thing; every time there’s a bank holiday weekend, the shelves of This Writer’s local supermarkets empty as local residents stock up to avoid the hardships of a single extra day without a shop.

I don’t get it. Just do a normal weekly shop and you’ll be fine.

Worse still, as shelves are cleared of toilet rolls and hand sanitisers because of the coronavirus, it seems supermarkets are hiking the prices of these essentials – that should be dirt-cheap – in order to make a quick buck.

Shameful.

The knock-on effect is that food banks aren’t getting donations of milk and cereal, and are receiving less cash, because people are hoarding these things for themselves and spending their money on them.

The effect could be devastating:

Donations from shoppers at branches of Sainsbury’s and Waitrose slumped to 25% of their normal volume at one food bank in London, while they have fallen by a third at a Kirkcaldy food bank – where UHT milk has run out.

Some facilities have warned they may close because of concerns about cross-infection, and a food bank in Stonebridge, a deprived area of north-west London, will cut the size of its food parcels by a third from Wednesday, with larger families facing the biggest reductions.

“Panic is going to be more dangerous than the virus,” said Joyce Leggate, the chair of Kirkcaldy food bank, which helps up to 350 families a week. “Our food parcels are essential for the health of many of the people we support. The food can be a lifeline. Please, if you are stockpiling, have a look and say: ‘Am I really going to use this?’ If not, is there someone who needs it more?”

Organisers in Fife, Liverpool and Leicester have reported the unavailability of UHT milk, a key part of their food parcels to keep young children and expecting mothers healthy.

“Emergency food aid providers across the UK are already stretched to the limit and the impact of the spread of coronavirus can only make matters worse,” said Sabine Goodwin, the coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, which represents 189 food banks.

“[They] cannot be expected to support yet more people needing help if schools are closed and those depending on insecure work are forced to rely on charity if taken ill or self-isolating.”

James Quayle, the manager at North Paddington food bank in London, where donations are down to 25% of their normal volume: “It shows the safety net created by our food banks is very thin. The system is not very sustainable. This is another sign that more vulnerable people stand to be worse affected by coronavirus.”

The Tories must be delighted.

Their failure to act, and their provision of limp advice, has created a panic stampede for supplies in which the most vulnerable people are likely to be trampled to death underfoot.

The Tories have been grinding such vulnerable people under their heels for years.

This is exactly what they want and if you are among the panic-buyers, you are playing right into their hands.

Source: Food banks run out of milk and other staples as shoppers panic-buy | World news | The Guardian

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Is Plymouth the first city to report widespread STARVATION due to Tory policies?

I, Daniel Blake: in Ken Loach’s film, a single mother starves herself to feed her children. Eventually, desperate to eat, she rips open a tin of cold beans in a food bank and eats it. That scene is being repeated regularly, in real life, according to staff at the food bank in Plymouth.

This report on Plymouth Live should be shocking – but is it?

Some of us have lived with the consequences of Conservative government benefit deprivation for years, and have recorded many, many deaths arising from these cruel and unnecessary policies.

Now the food bank at Plymouth is reporting widespread starvation throughout that city.

The report states that more than a third of food voucher recipients there are children.

And some are in work that does not pay enough for them to afford food after paying off other household bills – once again proving false the Tory claim that the best way out of poverty is employment.

And never forget: there is plenty of money available – larger employers in particular are simply keeping the majority of it for themselves.

The psychological harm caused by this enforced starvation is clearly demonstrated by reports that people receiving parcels after days without food are bursting into tears, devouring food the instant they have it.

It’s a classic “softening up” technique, often used by torturers to make their victims more pliable.

And the Tories will have known this from the moment Iain Duncan Smith imposed Universal Credit on the first pilot area, many years ago.

But “softening up” for what? It can’t be for people to accept even less; when you already aren’t receiving enough to survive, there isn’t far to go.

So we are left with the uncomfortable reality:

Universal Credit is being used by the Conservatives to send perfectly good people to early graves.

Can anyone prove me wrong?

Source: Families in Plymouth are so poor they’re actually starving – Plymouth Live

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Universal Credit forces ‘sandwich at Christmas’ claimant to beg supermarkets for food

Faceless: Universal Credit is an attempt to avoid treating benefit claimants as people. It is easier to deprive you of everything if they don’t have to think of you as a person.

It took This Writer a while to understand this.

Not only did the Department for Work and Pensions – through its function (you can’t call it a benefit) Universal Credit – penalise a woman who has had several strokes, including a rare spinal cord stroke resulting in lack of mobility which means she needs to use a wheelchair…

Not only did it take so much away from Carol Brice of Bridgwater that her Christmas dinner was a sandwich

Not only was it pilloried by public opinion after this treatment became commonly-known…

But it hasn’t responded to that bad publicity at all, and Ms Brice has been forced to write to supermarkets, begging for food.

And…

Worst of all…

Those supermarkets have, in effect, told her to get lost.

They told her they only work with charities and she should go to a food bank.

Tory Britain, 2020.

They bury you in bureaucracy and when you try to dig yourself out, they ignore you altogether.

Source: Universal Credit claimant who had just a sandwich to eat on Christmas day begs supermarkets for food – Somerset Live

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Johnson’s Britain: thugs think it’s okay to vandalise a food bank and force people to starve

Vital: Food banks provide a lifeline to thousands of families the Tories have put on the breadline. But Tory divisiveness is encouraging vandals to attack them.

This is where divide-and-conquer policies like those of Boris Johnson take us.

He has taken a few leaves out of Adolf Hitler’s book, and it shows.

By creating division between people, he both distracts them from the harm he is doing to them all and drums up support for at least some of that harm when he pretends to take a side.

In fact, he doesn’t care about any of the antagonists he has created; he just wants to profit from the strife he has created.

In the latest manifestation of this, we see that vandals have attacked a food bank – not for a first time, but for the fifth.

Organisers have been forced to throw away hundreds of pounds worth of stock that has been spoiled.

And they fear they may have to close the facility altogether.

The vandals will be happy. They have caused a lot of unnecessary harm with a small act of hate.

And hundreds of families will go hungry. Maybe some of them will lose hope and commit suicide (plenty do). Maybe they’ll just starve. Who will care?

Source: Food bank forced to turn people away after vandals smash storage room windows | Metro News

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Poverty, rough sleepers and food bank use ‘getting worse’ – but hey, it’s what the UK wanted

Poverty: It’s weird to think of spiralling destitution and homelessness in a rich area where many dwellings are second homes. But that’s what we all voted for – right?

This sums up the state of the UK at the end of 2019:

NEARLY a quarter of children in ‘wealthy’ South Lakeland are living in poverty while rough sleeping is also on the rise, a council meeting has heard.

And there are fears that ‘social inequality’ could get worse across the area in 2020 with Universal Credit being extended and rents for housing association tenants set to rise for the first time in five years, councillors were told.

This Christmas, some people in Kendal are having to make the choice between ‘heating the house or buying food’, according to the King’s Food Bank.

Poverty, homelessness and increasing dependence on food banks, in an area where around 4,000 dwellings are second homes. That’s Tory Britain!

And voters love it. That’s why they brought the Tories back into government with an 80-seat majority. Right?

What? They thought they were just calling for a quick end to Brexit?

More fool them, huh?

… Brexit won’t be over for years to come.

Source: Poverty, rough sleepers and food bank use ‘getting worse’ | The Westmorland Gazette

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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