The Swanage Foodbank and the place of foodbanks in our society
‘Increasingly many working families in Dorset rely on Foodbanks. It’s a travesty this situation exist and is seen as normal by this government’ Nick Ireland
The unspoken manifesto of the Conservative Party has always been to make the rich richer, which often makes the poor poorer. They have indisputably succeeded in doing this during their years in Government. The wealth distribution of the UK is such that the top 10% hold the majority of wealth e.g. the wealthiest 1% hold 20% of all the wealth in the UK.
Austerity has disproportionally affected the poorest in society. During the Coalition years from 2010 -2015 the Liberal Democrats moderated the degree of austerity following the 2008 crash, keeping cuts in public spending to the level in the 2010 Labour Manifesto. They were instrumental in introducing Pupil Premium and free school meals for all children in Reception and Years one and two.
The effects of the changes in the benefit system has led to claimants waiting anything between six and eight weeks to receive Universal Credit. What exactly are people supposed to live on in the meantime – loans they have to pay back, making them even poorer?
The “Gig Economy” has had a negative effect on jobs. Employees have no rights, no contract and are paid the lowest possible amount. They are only employed when they are needed. Hours can vary week to week, therefore a regular income cannot be guaranteed.
'What happens in wider society is reflected here in Swanage and around Purbeck. Seven years ago, when foodbanks were first introduced, it seemed unbelievable that a foodbank could be needed in our town. Now it is an essential resource for many families who would STARVE - yes, in 2019 in one of the richest economies of the world.
Our clients are not lazy layabouts looking for “freebies” but often people holding down several jobs and who still cannot make ends meet. According to the Trussell Trust, the UKs biggest foodbank provider, there are 5 million people in this category. In Swanage in 2018 between August and January, 198 adults and 80 children required assistance. In 2019 between January and August 267 adults and 153 children required assistance, that is 35% more adults and disturbingly 91% more children. Imagine children going to school hungry. Schools know this is happening and are doing their best to help despite smaller and smaller budgets.' Swanage and Purbeck Foodbank
The ideal society would be one, in which there was no need for foodbanks. Such a time is within living memory for many of us. A society in which wealth is spread more evenly and everyone has a right to live independently.
Meanwhile more than £3.5m EU money intended to alleviate child poverty and homelessness is at risk of being wasted because the government has failed to spend it, says a House of Lords committee. The BBC report Child poverty cash handed back to Europe unspent
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