Tag Archives: referral

Tories have banned job centres from referring claimants to food banks

Those genocidal maniacs at the Department for Work and Pensions are trying to cull the stock further by banning Job Centre staff from referring starving benefit claimants to food banks, it seems.

According to Lewes Eye, claimants will be referred to Citizens Advice or similar agencies that may be able to send them to food banks.

The aim appears to be to add another layer of delay so it takes longer for starving people to get the nutrition they need.

Food bank operators only found out after they asked current users to get new referral letters from their Job Centre, to check they were still qualified. Nobody appears to have told Citizens Advice, according to the report, or any other bodies that will now be expected to handle this.

Lewes Job Centre did email Lewes District Council’s tenant participation team. Reproduced in the report, it said: “DWP policy does not permit jobcentres to refer customers to food banks by issuing vouchers or referral forms.”

The Eye commented: “The DWP is doing this because the government is frightened that campaigners will be able to show that benefit cuts and the new Universal Credit are driving people into destitution. Last August the DWP told job centre staff not to record the referrals they made.  Now they are going even further to stop the obvious link being made

“Never mind that it will be harder for people to get emergency food and for food banks to ensure that the food gets to those who need it most, the DWP is off the hook.”

Reporting the change on his blog, Universal Credit Sufferer, Alex Tiffin stated: “Speaking from experience, accepting you need to use a foodbank takes time. Many will be embarrassed and already starving so to send them to another agency to explain it all over again, is frankly disgusting.”

He stated: “Once again the DWP are placing all the expectation on the Charity sector to pick up their mess. Citizens Advice and charities are already under intense pressure due to the issues Universal Credit has brought. What’s more, this wild goose chase the DWP are sending claimants on will inevitably delay them getting the help they need.”

I say this is yet another tactic by the DWP to throw attention away from the fact that it is starving benefit claimants to death.

How many PIP claimants died while awaiting a decision – 21,000? And 7,990 died within six months of being told they didn’t qualify for the benefit.

Maybe these people had terminal conditions in any case, but they were also deprived of the means to support themselves and questions need to be asked about how far this contributed to the deaths.

This decision by the DWP puts people, who need help but aren’t getting it from the state, further away from the sustenance they need.

It’s chequebook euthanasia. I’ve been saying it for more than four years and it is still going on. The death toll is already greater than that managed against sick and disabled people by the Nazis in the run-up to World War II. When are we going to admit what the Tories – quietly, behind the scenes, are doing?


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Jeremy Hunt’s plan to ease Accident & Emergency admissions might as well be murder

Jeremy Hunt has doctors on the rack [Cartoon: Mirror Online].

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is another Tory MP who should face a Nuremberg-style show trial after we get a sane, Labour government back in office.

His plan to solve the A&E crisis, in which people have to wait many hours for treatment, is to force patients to seek referral from their GP first. But the average wait for a GP appointment is three weeks, as Mr Hunt knows perfectly well.

He’s the one who has poured the pressure on them.

And he doesn’t care. Watch this video, in which he shows absolutely no compassion for overworked doctors, even after being told several have taken their own lives because of his policies:

He sat there with a smirk on his face while listening to the facts – including mention of deaths – and then as good as admitted that he’s using the NHS to train staff for private health companies.

“We’ve made good progress on the medical school side but we need to do a lot better in terms of the retention side” means doctors and nurses are quitting, after qualification, to work elsewhere. Does he really mean that, considering he co-wrote a book demanding the privatisation of the NHS?

Plans to increase the number of doctors being trained won’t help the NHS keep them; better pay and working conditions are needed to achieve that.

He said he wants GPs to “do the work that we need general practice to do”. What work is that, exactly? Referring people to private health firms, rather than helping them on the NHS? You have to ask.

Meanwhile, the queues of patients mount up.

Of course, many are forced to attend A&E simply because they can’t get to see a GP in reasonable time. Forcing them back is simply compounding a problem that Jeremy Hunt has created.

He would put patients in a permanent loop, running back and forth between GP and A&E, and receiving treatment from neither.

Until when? People have already died because of Mr Hunt’s ideologically-motivated underfunding of both branches of the NHS.

His plan seems to be to force patients to wait for care until after the end of their lives – in the same way his colleague David Gauke wants benefit claimants to die before receiving state benefits.

Yet both patients and claimants have paid for these services already – through taxes, direct and indirect.

That’s why Tory ministers like Mr Hunt belong in court, on mass murder charges. They know the consequences of their policies and are implementing them anyway.


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Food bank blow is new low for the Mail on Sunday

Who do you bank with? This piece of public opinion was picked up from Twitter [Author: Unknown].

Who do you bank with? This piece of public opinion was picked up from Twitter [Author: Unknown].

Isn’t it a shame that on of our national Sunday newspapers has chosen to disrupt everybody’s enjoyment of our Easter eggs with a specious attempt to expose abuses of food banks and make operator the Trussell Trust look hypocritical?

Isn’t it also a shame that the Mail on Sunday didn’t make a few inquiries into the procedure for dealing with people who turn up at food banks without having been referred?

The paper’s reporters and editor could have, at least, opened a dictionary and looked up the meaning of the word “charity”.

Under the headline, ‘No ID, no checks… and vouchers for sob stories: The truth behind those shock food bank claims’, the paper today (April 20) published a story claiming that Trussell Trust food banks are breaking their own rules by allowing people to take food bank parcels without presenting a voucher from an approved referrer, and that they are allowing many times more than the maximum permissible number of repeat visits.

Unfortunately for reporters Simon Murphy and Sanchez Manning, both situations are – in fact – allowed, because food banks must be flexible in the way they deal with individual cases. They would have known that if they had done their homework – as yr obdt srvt (who’s writing this) did at several meetings on the organisation of food banks here in Powys.

The paper’s investigation claims that there were “inadequate checks on who claims the vouchers, after a reporter obtained three days’ worth of food simply by telling staff at a Citizens Advice Bureau – without any proof – that he was unemployed”.

It turned out that this person had to fill out a form providing his name, address, date of birth, phone number and the reason for his visit before an assessor asked him why he needed food bank vouchers. In contradiction of the introduction to the story, he explained – not simply that he was unemployed, but that he had been out of work for several months and the harsh winter had left him strapped for cash and food. He said his wife had left her job and was not earning and that they had two children. These lies were sufficient to win food bank vouchers.

What the report didn’t say was how the details given by reporter Ross Slater would have been used afterwards. The CAB would have booked him in for a further interview with a debt advisor, to which he would have had to bring documentary evidence of his situation. When he didn’t turn up, he would have been identified as a fraud. The food bank would also have taken his details, to be fed back into the referral system. Job Centre Plus would have picked up on the fact that he isn’t unemployed. From this point on, he would have been identified as a fraud and refused further service.

You see, it is true that food banks run on a voucher system, but that is only a part of the scheme. The questions asked of people who need vouchers are used to ensure that they get the help they need to avoid having to come back – that’s why they’re asked. They also weed out abusers like Mr Slater.

If the paper’s editor had looked in a dictionary, he might have seen charity defined as “voluntary provision of help to people in need, or the help provided” in the first instance. However, reading further, he would have seen “sympathy or tolerance in judging” listed as well. It seems the Mail on Sunday would have no such sympathy and would have deserving cases turned away to starve.

It is telling, also, that the paper had to go to Citizens Advice to get its evidence. Far more food bank vouchers are handed out in the Job Centre Plus, where all a citizen’s circumstances are available to advisors. But not one word is said about the fact that the vast majority of food bank referrals are for people in real need and not newspaper reporters.

The paper also stated: “Staff at one centre gave food parcels to a woman who had visited nine times in just four months, despite that particular centre’s own rules stipulating that individuals should claim no more than three parcels a year.”

It continued: “Individuals experiencing severe financial hardship are able to claim food vouchers but there are no clear criteria on who should be eligible. Once received, the vouchers can be exchanged for three days’ worth of food at an allotted centre.

“The Trussell Trust has a policy that an individual can claim no more than nine handouts in a year, but undercover reporters found this limit varied in different branches.”

No – it is far more likely that it varied according to the circumstances of the person who needed the help. Rigid rules, such as one that limits people to only three visits, mean those who need the most help would be cut off while they still needed assistance. People working in food banks would be aware of who these were, and would be more likely to be tolerant towards them.

Meanwhile, the other support services – Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice, Social Services and so on – would be working to help them. With some people, it simply takes longer. It should be easy for anyone to think of reasons why this may be the case.

This may also explain the situation in which a worker at a Trussell Trust food bank said people “bounce around” locations to receive more vouchers. The assessment system is a way of monitoring these people and determining whether they need extra help.

It is not true that the criteria are not clear – the paper is misleading with this claim. Food banks, the charities running them, and referring organisations all have to agree on the circumstances in which they permit people to receive parcels. You really can’t just walk in the door and expect to get a free handout. That’s why the questions are asked and forms filled out – they will check up on everybody.

Another claim – that “volunteers revealed that increased awareness of food banks is driving a rise in their use” is unsubstantiated, and is clearly an attempt to support the government’s claim that this is the case. But it is silly. Of course starving people will go to a food bank after they have been told it exists; that doesn’t mean they aren’t starving.

And the paper wrongly said the Trussell Trust had claimed that more than 913,000 people received three days’ emergency food from its banks in 2013-14, compared with 347,000 in the previous financial year. This is a misreading of the way the charity records its work, as the Trussell Trust records visits, not visitors. It would be hard to work out exactly how many people attended because some will have visited just once, others twice, a few for the full three times, and some would have required extra help.

The claim that many visitors were asylum-seekers is silly because food banks were originally set up for foreign people who were seeking asylum in the UK and had no money or means of support.

Of course it would be wrong to say that nobody is trying to abuse the system. There are good people and bad people all over the country, and bad people will try to cheat. Look at Maria Miller, Iain Duncan Smith (Betsygate), George Osborne (and his former paddock), Andrea Leadsom’s tax avoidance, Philip Hammond’s tax avoidance, Charlotte Leslie who took cash to ask Parliamentary questions – to name but a few.

The Trussell Trust has agreed to investigate the newspaper’s allegations – but it is important to remember that these were just a few instances of abuse, and only claimed – by a newspaper that is infamous for the poor quality of its reporting.

Nothing said in the article should be used to undermine the vital work of food banks in helping people to survive, after the Conservative-led Coalition government stole the safety net of social security away from them.

UPDATE: Already the Mail on Sunday is facing a public backlash against its ill-advised piece. A petition on the Change.org website is calling for the reporter who claimed food bank vouchers under false pretences in order to make a political point to be sacked. Vox Political has mixed feelings about this – it targets a person who was sent out to do a job by others who are more directly to blame for the piece, but then he did it of his own free will and this action brings all newspaper reporters into disrepute. Consider carefully.

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Conservatives in chaos over food bank stance

Credit where it's due: The vast majority of reasons for people being referred to food banks are attributable to the Department for Work and Pensions. Could that be why the DWP is so desperate to silence the food bank charities?

Credit where it’s due: The vast majority of reasons for people being referred to food banks are attributable to the Department for Work and Pensions. Could that be why the DWP is so desperate to silence the food bank charities?

Tories – what are they like?

The answer is, of course, even they don’t know – as evidenced by their current confusion over food banks.

David Cameron has enthusiastically backed their work at a Christian faith group’s Easter reception (and so he should, having sent so much of it their way), and Treasury minister David Gauke also praised them in an interview on Channel 4 News last week.

But the DWP says leading food bank provider the Trussell Trust is guilty of “misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity seeking”, with the rise in food bank use being the result of the charity’s leaders “aggressively marketing their services” and “effectively running a business”.

At least one commenter on this blog has been completely taken in by the DWP’s prattling, claiming that demand for food banks has not risen at all since Cameron came to office. No, it’s clear to this demented individual that opening a food bank anywhere is like opening a supermarket – if there isn’t one nearby already, people will flock through your doors.

This, of course, completely misconstrues the way food banks are used and assumes that anyone can walk through their doors, claim food poverty and take away a packet of supplies whenever they want. It doesn’t work like that.

Food banks operate on a referral system. As Trussell Trust chairman Chris Mould put it in an Observer report: “You can’t get free food from the Trussell Trust by walking through the door and asking for it; you must have a voucher. More than 24,000 professionals – half of whom work in the public sector and health service, the police, and in social services – ask us to give this food to clients of theirs because they’ve made the decision that this individual or family is in dire straits and needs help. We’re not drumming up demand.”

This is absolutely correct and no amount of negative campaigning by the DWP can change it. In fact, Mr Gauke spent some time crowing about the fact the DWP rules have been altered to allow “signposting” to food banks by Job Centre advisors, in his Channel 4 News interview (although claiming credit for government employees sending people to someone else, rather than providing help themselves, is in itself a mean-spirited shot in the foot).

Once again, the Conservatives are getting stuck in the mire while trying to claim the moral high ground.

Not only have they created a poverty-driven starvation threat that organisations like the Trussell Trust have been forced to step in and fight, but the Tories have also tried to vilify those good people for laying the blame where it belongs.

It is a situation so twisted, there can be no wonder the Tories are tying themselves in knots.

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