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Jobcentre Plus and Food Banks

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 2016.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 12:00 am, 21st November 2016

What assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of improving co-operation between Jobcentre Plus and food banks.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Jobcentre Plus district managers have discretion to work with food banks in their areas where those food banks are willing to work with them. This is part of the wider Jobcentre Plus outreach programme with community organisations.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

In just six months the Trussell Trust has provided more than 2,000 children in Bristol with emergency food parcels, and east Bristol food bank has had to open another outlet in Fishponds. We know that changes to benefits or delays in payments account for nearly half of those cases, so will the Minister agree to the Trussell Trust’s simple request that a Jobcentre Plus hotline for food bank volunteers is provided?

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

First, I should say that 90% of out-of-work benefits are paid on time; of course, we always strive to make that better. On the question of whether the Jobcentre Plus network is willing to work with food banks, as I said, there is discretion locally to do that when it makes sense and if the food bank is happy to do so. There are plenty of examples of that happening around the country in terms of both signposting from Jobcentre Plus and work coaches going to food banks.