Two or three weeks ago I had the honour of co-chairing the launch of a report entitled “Emergency Use Only”, compiled by the Trussell Trust, Oxfam, the Child Poverty Action Group and the Church of England. It is a balanced and thoughtful report and chimes very much with my own experience as a constituency Member of Parliament.
As time is short, I shall outline just some of the points made by those organisations. They began by considering what had caused the increasing use of food banks and they concluded that it was due to an acute income crisis. There could be a number of reasons for that crisis. The word “complexity” has rightly been used a great deal today. The income crisis could be due to factors connected with employment, or unemployment. It could be due to a change in family circumstances. But it could be due to the benefits system, and it clearly is in a number of cases. The system is complex, people have had to experience long waiting times, and there has often been a lack of clear information about why people have been sanctioned and what they must do to remove those sanctions.