- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
Tesco on Littleton Street Walsall held a ‘Neighbourhood Food Collection’ on the Friday 2 December 2016 and I donated a basket of food which will be taken to the Great Barr Food Bank.
The photo above shows Tesco staff members Hamel and Emma, volunteers Lawrence Wragg and Andy Heap, and Paul Kirby from The Trussell Trust food bank.
I am concerned that the number of people who are dependent on food banks is at a record high. The number of people using the Great Barr foodbank has risen from 400 in 2013 to 3000 today. Those who need it can collect the food when they present vouchers given to them by either social services, job centres, advice agencies, GP’s and even the police.
It is alarming that The Trussell Trust which oversees 424 food banks in the UK, said it gave out enough emergency food to feed more than 1.1 million people in 2015-16, an increase on the year before. Trussell Trust data shows that benefit delays and changes remain the biggest causes of foodbank use, accounting for 42% of all referrals. In the charity’s March-April 2016 survey, 89% of foodbanks reported benefit sanctions as an issue driving foodbank use.
I raised the issue of sanctions to the Leader of the House at Business Questions on Thursday 1 December 2016. I also raised the recent NAO report published on 30 November 2016 which said that sanctions are handed out without any evidence that they actually work. The Trussell Trust has recommended that the Department for Work and Pensions pilot a warning system in the whole of the UK, of a non-financial ‘yellow card’ penalty to first try and engage the person in constructive dialogue without the immediate threat of financial penalty.
The Trussell Trust, a food bank charity, along with food redistribution charity, FareShare and Tesco are aiming to provide at least five million meals to help feed people in need this winter. The Government needs to recognise the damaging effects that sanctions are having on people.