Unbelievable govt comment on Foodbanks

I often pick up on interesting exchanges from the Commons for this blog. However, this week I came across one which went way beyond ‘interesting’ and well into the territory of ‘he can’t possibly have really just said that’.

A typical foodbank collection – given by hard-up people for the even poorer

I’ve written before about Foodbanks, and the appalling gall of David Cameron in trying to claim the exponential rise in their numbers as an expression of his ‘Big Society’. Cameron has also been incredibly disingenuous when criticised about this rise, claiming that

The use of food banks went up tenfold under the last Labour government.

As Channel 4’s Full Fact has pointed out, the tenfold increase during 6 years under the last Labour government in the number of people receiving help from Foodbanks (by around 36,000 to 40,898) is dwarfed by the increase of 87,799 (to 128,697) that took place in just the first 2 years of the coalition government.

But even that is nothing compared to what happened in the most recent year, 2012-13. The already massive number of over 128,000 almost tripled in a single year to almost


All this is bad enough – but it’s not what I’m talking about as unbelievable. To claim these numbers as a success should be unbelievable – but it’s all too easy to believe of David Cameron.

Here’s what made my jaw drop. It’s a passage from the Hansard record of Commons debates last Tuesday, 14 May 2013. During a debate on the cost of living, Labour MP Huw Irranca-Davies challenged the government on the exponential rise in the number of people relying on help from Foodbanks:

 Against the glowing backdrop that the Secretary of State paints, why do I now have a food bank in every single village in my constituency when there was only one three years ago? Why has there been a quadrupling of food banks under this Government? His record cannot be that good, given the backdrop of the inexorable rise of food poverty.

As we’ve seen, Mr Irranca-Davies actually understated the situation. The latest figures were released at the end of April, so he should have said that Foodbank use has gone up almost nine-fold under this woeful government. Close to Cameron’s misleading claim of a tenfold increase under Labour, but 9 times a far larger number to begin with. Perhaps Mr Irranca-Davies didn’t have the latest numbers, but it’s a pity he missed the opportunity to confront the government with its even greater culpability.

Government minister Ed Davey gave his staggering response:

People who run food banks are doing an extremely good job and deserve credit for their work. However, it is completely wrong to suggest that there is a statistical link between the Government’s benefit reforms and the provision of food banks. It is good that people are helping others. I hope the hon. Gentleman supports that.

Not only does Davey repeat Cameron’s hubris by claiming the increase in Foodbank use as a social good – he claims that the rise has nothing to do with the government’s benefit ‘reforms’.

I have news for Mr Davey. The number of people coming to my local Foodbank for help doubled overnight when the government’s latest ‘reforms’ kicked in at the beginning of April, including the cancellation of the ‘crisis loan’ programme.

There can no doubt whatever in the mind of any reasonable, honest person that the government’s persecution and impoverishment of those who are already poor and disadvantaged is directly responsible for the massive increase in the number of people in such desperate straits that their only option is to accept the humiliation of admitting to strangers that you literally have no food to put on the table for yourself or your family.

That ordinary people have galvanised themselves to save others from starvation is amazing, and heartwarming.

That our government is increasing the number of people who need saving by around 350 people per day for the whole of last year (a number that unquestionably continues to accelerate) should have the Tories and LibDems cowering in shame – and make them unelectable forever. Instead the government is claiming ‘It’s nothing to do with us, guv‘.

Anyone who would think for even a nanosecond of voting for either party in the next general election needs either their head or their heart examined – or both.


  1. This has got to be the most heartless, callous government Britain has ever seen= even worse than Thatcher’s lot.
    There’s another example of this kind of denial behaviour in today’s Independent in a story which tells of an unbelievable 338% increase in tenants asking for emergency relief to help pay their rent in the last month. This is happening all over the country and councils don’t have enough in their emergency funds to help everyone applying.
    The Independent asked the DWP to comment:-

    “A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) attributed the rise in the number of emergency housing support claimants to better publicity about the DHP on the part of councils. – the same explanation that the Department offered for the increased number of people using the food bank network”


    Hanging is too good for them.

  2. Doesn’t surprise me at all – give it time and the govt will scrap welfare and force people to use food banks. Anyone without a job will obviously be a scrounger…

  3. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Foodbanks have interested me for many months, now. As a Citizens Advice representative, I shall be attending a meeting of voluntary organisations to discuss food banks here in Powys early next month, and I have had discussions with organisations in my town about setting one up. This is because disastrous government policies have made them necessary, even if only as a precaution.
    The government’s own attitude to food banks continues to defy belief and is summarised excellently in this article on the Skwawkbox blog.

  4. Pat… I thought all benefit claimants .no matter what benefit they were claiming, were skivers & scroungers already as far as this government were concerned. that wont change no matter what this evil lot do,,

  5. Is this the ConDem’s “Let them eat cake” moment?

    Because we all know what happened to the last ruler that said that.

  6. Reblogged this on msunderstand and commented:
    Sickening neo-Victorian attitudes. What kind of a country are we that the hungry poor are starved and demonised by the aloof wealthy elites, while we all stand idly by?

  7. Yes! It is almost funny how these ConServingOnlyThemselves, especially ComOnMoron, think they can use the massive increase in the need for Food banks, as an indicator of what a GOOD and CARING government they are! The quote you give as unbelievable, was used by the Prime Sinister in Cornwall, only a few weeks ago! They really do think the British Public are stupid, don’t they?

  8. 2 Guardian stories that still resonate after 2 years….

    A vicar in Liverpool wrote under our article: “I and other clergy have regularly been asked to provide food by desperate people who have had their benefits sanctioned over trivial issues. The humanitarian situation is so serious that a group of churches is now setting up a food bank to meet this need.”

    John Robson, 53, South Shields
    “It’s actually quite frightening being out there. And nobody seems to care. It’s like a lot of things of life – things are set in place by people who don’t actually experience it themselves.”


    And, It gets worse as each day passes. The crass comments just add to the misery of it all.

  9. A bit old now but still an interesting read


  10. Good BBC reports:



    I can verify from the Telegraph report http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/recession/9651338/Britons-below-the-breadline-rush-to-food-banks.html, it is not just people who claim benefits that can suffer. More than 20 years ago, working as a civil servant at management grade my husband became unemployed. We had a mortgage and ran a car due to to living in a rural village location, we also had a new born baby. I calculated at the time we were around £30 worse off than benefit claimants living in rented accommodation and without a car, which is impossible to maintain on benefits. Very difficult and painful times.

    Universal Credit will not help working people in similar situations or address the ever increasing fuel, food and utility prices for those on low incomes or on benefits. Not to mention the cruel VAT rate, which hits people on the lowest incomes the hardest. People forget that the so called ‘scrounger’ pays circa £10 VAT per week .

    Worst of all, many benefit claimants must now pay council tax and bedroom tax too. It is just impossible and as thrifty individual – I know!

    Jobseeker (25+) on £71.70, will spend around £50* on non exempt** VAT goods and services thus paying £10 VAT per week.

    Employee earning £40k -, take home pay c£570 per week.
    Lets say £300 is left after food. the mortgage and insurances – they will pay £60 VAT per week.

    *This will obviously be far less for those under the age of 25 or people paying bedroom tax.

    **Goods and services exempt from VAT: Food, children’s clothing, books, water, bingo, stamps, insurances.

  11. Food banks, there for the likes of you & me!
    The f***ing government not content with lining their pockets by selling off assets, paid for by taxpayers, now want a 10-20k pay increase.

  12. You lot are all missing he point, it matters not one jot if the number of food banks doubled, tripled or went up 10 fold or 100 fold. It also matters not one jot if it is a Labour government or hamstrung Coalition…or conservative or UKIP for that matter.

    Consider a possibility of NO food-banks…NOBODY would starve. But if there are food-banks THEY WILL BE USED. Triple the food-banks again in another single year…and guess what…THEY WILL ALL BE USED. Take every single one away and guess what…NOBODY will starve!

    By the way…show me the posts and comments you made about food-banks and Blair’s government and then Brown’s government – or why we are in the situation we are in – and I may have more sympathy for the point you are making.

    1. Idiotic thinking that shows how remote you are from the reality faced by many on a daily basis. People are going hungry, and if they don’t starve it will be because of charitable help. That’s a shameful situation for one of the world’s richest countries.

      I wasn’t blogging under Labour. There wasn’t the same need. But the ‘inherited mess’ – your ‘why we are in the situation we are in’ – is a myth: http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/the-myth-of-the-inherited-mess-52/

      1. Well it’s not idiotic is it, it is right; it is life and in GB people are far more charitable than the rest of the world as is being shown by the increase in food banks. I suppose you know that every single point in your ‘proof’ can be rebutted with figures showing exactly the opposite, I realise you are not ‘of the red team’ as you say so yourself in the comments and politicians have blamed each other/the other side since time immemorial but to say there was no inherited mess is to belie even Labour’s own comments and admissions.

      2. Labour might admit things for political expediency, but the facts speak for themselves – when they’re not ignored and drowned out by unfounded Tory fingerpointing – they never let the facts get in the way of a good soundbite.

      3. “they never let the facts get in the way of a good soundbite.”
        This applies to all our modern politicians…and you know it.

      4. No, I don’t know that. It may apply to some in other parties, but I don’t believe it to be ubiquitous in the same way that it appears to be on the Tory front bench.

    2. It is people like you that make me ashamed to be british!! Do you know that the people that are using food banks have to be referred either by Social Services or another listed organisation they need to take a slip with them from the social who have checked their status they can’t just turn up out of the blue and get food.. SO THERE IS A REAL NEED AND PEOPLE ARE STARVING OR GOING WITHOUT TO FEED THEIR CHILDREN… YOU AWFUL IGNORANT PERSON THAT YOU ARE… I hope you never need to use a food bank .. I knoiw this to be a fact because unlike yourself I care about people and have taken food to the foodbank in my town.. for gods sake get a conscience!! I despair if this is the kind of ignorance our country is breeding..

      1. You can disagree with me without the insults. You presume I am British. How do you know I haven’t used a food bank or had family that have used one? You need to think a little about who gives the referral and why. I know exactly how and why people are referred to food-banks, maybe I know a little more than you, it certainly seems so.

    3. No, they will not starve, people are choosing instead to commit suicide or turn to crime or prostitution as a way to survive.

      These people are in complete despair.

      I have never seen anything like it before and have witnessed first hand the impact of the current government policies.

      Hopefully, if sufficient people write to the their MP’s and the DWP select committee, we may see change.

    4. Thanks Spanows, I’m writing a novel about a country full of brainwashed people who persecute the poorest, the disabled, and the elderly for being in need, and for taking their precious spare change and leftovers, and are heading for an ethnical cleansing showdown. Its really useful for me to read comments like yours which helps me imagine how the greediest in my novel can persuade the populace that the starving people are only starving due to the availability of kindness, and their hunger is unconnected to their ability to buy food.

      I find it really hard to imagine how people could victim blame those who are close to death, and that hampers my writing about them in an empathic way. So reading the way you speak about the most vulnerable in our country helps me to write about the villains in my story.


      1. Let me know when you publish too. Greediest? Hilarious. Funny really, of course I can’t prove it but I wouldn’t mind betting that I give more and more often than all the commentators on this blog put together. That refers not only to monetary but also to time given. You’re not alone in the insults and ad hominem but that is par for the course.

        Additionally normal people should be insulted by the way you and your ilk are “surprised” at their generosity when collecting for food banks etc.

      2. Well said skwalker, people like that aren’t worth arguing the point with,!! I appreciate your blogs as they are very informative.

      3. Spanows- I’m pretty certain that  many of us are giving more than you, but who’s counting?! You will  be surprised to find that a number of us on this and other blogs are not in fact affected in any way by these cuts – we’re merely speaking up for the oppressed who have been silenced by small minded bullies in high places. You don’t tend to hear from the vast majority of them directly for the simple reason that they don’t have a voice. They have far more pressing concerns than to be  spending time on blogs. This has never been a discussion about rich vs poor, as you so simplistically put it, it’s about the moral failings of a particular ilk, so blinded by greed and self righteousness, that they  cannot seem to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil. Anyone with a conscience -rich or poor – would see the light!

  13. ” Trauma through injustice” a subversive practice devised by the Frankfurt School, is commonly used as a technique of control by despotic murderous rulers who often also believe in the occult. It appears that the DWP is using experimenting with this method on the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.
    The creation of trauma through injustice usually leads to financial ruin, utter devastation and often to suicide; Cameron’s utterly corrupt govt has coerced Social Services and local councils to conform to this practice
    The objectives of trauma :
    1.      Trauma makes people live in fear of government; it keeps them in a constant state of confusion and anxiety; it controls them and makes them comply.
    2.      It trains local leaders, like social services and councils, to rule with the brutality, lke a dictatorship

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