Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 11th May 2020.
What recent discussions local officials of her Department have had with operators of food banks on referral of benefit claimants to food banks during the covid-19 outbreak.
Ministers and officials have had regular discussions with food bank providers and other stakeholders during this time. Flexibility and innovation in local jobcentre arrangements for signposting to food banks, within the parameters of the existing guidance, is encouraged during the covid-19 outbreak.
[Inaudible.] In my constituency, the jobcentre is not referring people to the Widnes food bank. It is important that the Minister intervenes and ensures that referrals do take place so that the people who need help get it quickly.
Minister, did you get any of that?
I think I did, Mr Speaker. I gently point out to the hon. Gentleman that jobcentres are working with local partners to signpost claimants to the support available in their local area. The Trussell Trust and the Independent Food Aid Network are putting in place appropriate solutions where food banks are in operation. I stress that local councils in England will be able to use funding from the new £500 million local hardship fund to provide further discretion to support vulnerable people.