Food banks: Because government is crap

The Trussell figures show that one in five food parcel receipients – 65,177 people – were referred to its foodbanks as a result of changes to their benefits in the first half of this year, compared with 14,897 (14%) during the same period last year. Delays in the payment of benefits resulted in 117,442 people (35%) being referred between April and the end of September, compared with 35,597 (33%) in the same period in 2012-13.

So, the largest contributor to the use of food banks is the fact that government is crap at doing what government sets out to do: get cash into the hands of the poor.

Sure, changes in benefits aren’t helping here: but twice the demand comes from the fact that government can’t in fact process a payment in under 8 weeks. They’re just fucking incompetent.

And this is, of course, taken as evidence that more should be done by that incompetent government and less should be done by that highly efficient private charitable effort.

If the aim is the alleviation of poverty shouldn’t we be celebrating and reinforcing those who do so and castigating those, taking resources away from those, who are proven to be total cocknobbins at the task?

28 thoughts on “Food banks: Because government is crap”

  1. It is worth remembering also that a fair proportion in the increase in foodbank referrals under the present government is because it reversed the decision of the previous government preventing job centres from making such referrals. Previous government refused to accept that there could be a need for referrals due to benefit payment delays because it did not believe there were any significant numbers of delays.

    It also, in a breathtaking bit of Newspeak, thought that allowing job centres to make foodbank referrals was “unfair” because foodbanks did not operate comprehensive national coverage so that there would be a postcode lottery as to which poor people were able to take advantage of such referrals. So it was better to pretend that there was no demand for foodbanks caused by government incompetence.

  2. So these food banks – do you just turn up and get free food? What’s to stop misers abusing them, or the morbidly obese rolling up in their mobility scooters to get some free snacks?

  3. Steve – absolutely nothing, as you’ll see if you watched ‘Daybreak’ interviews with these poor unfortunates today & clocked the bird with the expensive acrylic nails..

  4. And before anyone turns up to squeak about the need to be referred by your doctor or a local charity, well, yes.

    That’s not easily obtained and/or forgeable at all, is it?

  5. so a conservative government that chooses not to invest in the benefits system, screws around with it, and deliberately makes it as unfriendly as possible, putting in all sorts of “your benefits will be stopped if you fail to do X,Y,Z” can then use the consequent poor performance of the benefits system as evidence governments shouldn’t be in the benefits business.

    yes I am sure the nations poor, unemployed and disabled would be much better off if the government stopped paying benefits and left them to the super efficient private charity sector. \s

  6. Start again.

    A large part of the charity “third sector”–Bottler Broon’s phrase I believe–consists of fake government pressure groups. Real private charities are far less in evidence because of the fucking illfare state beloved of leftists. It is hardly a good plan to devote your time and money to duplicating what the scum of the state are supposed to be doing anyway–and taxes soak up the gifts that many people would willingly give if they could get out from under the thieving, violent hands of that state.

    If the welfare state was stopped all at once then, yes, things would be very rough as no private charitable infrastructure remains. The old friendly societies are ancient history now, along with the private schools that massively boosted British literacy before the 1870 govt takeover of education. All fucked up by the thieving coercive state.

    Phase the welfare state out over time(of course phasing out the tax thieving as well) and private initiative will provide far better care than useless govt shite.

  7. “And before anyone turns up to squeak about the need to be referred by your doctor or a local charity, well, yes. ”
    If the doctor gets beaten up for refusing what will happen is that the doctor will learn to never refuse again.
    Perhaps they should have special doctors (ones who can defend themselves) to do this.

  8. And you can be referred by the police, a social worker, a visiting nurse, CAB. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get a referral from a taxi driver. The Trussell Trust want as many people as possible to give out referrals because it makes the case for their existence even stronger.

  9. @botzarelli – I didn’t know that (not having really followed the food bank stuff). Though it’s not surprising.

    @Luis – please. The country is broke, we’re adding unskilled migrants at a rate of knots, and something has to be done. What it is, who knows. But no-one in the UK is starving, other than kids born to alcoholics and scagheads, and to say they are is an insult to those around the world who really are. Have you seen the size of some of our poor?

    The latest media spin on this (that I’ve heard, anyway) was that not only has food bank usage trebled in x months/years but also (BBC journalist adopts highly earnest tone) ‘food banks are increasingly seeing food handed back by needy people who say they can’t afford to cook it.’

    I think, in the end, that this bullshit will eat itself, no pun intended.

  10. JuliaM – thanks. I’m sure most people who use them probably are in need but given the shameless benefits culture that pervades our society I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them were at the madam. The days are long gone when people would be too proud to take a handout unless as a last resort.

  11. Interested – ‘food banks are increasingly seeing food handed back by needy people who say they can’t afford to cook it.’

    In other words, more frozen pizzas and oven chips and fewer tinned vegetables, please.

  12. I’m sure most people who use them probably are in need but given the shameless benefits culture that pervades our society I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of them were at the madam. The days are long gone when people would be too proud to take a handout unless as a last resort.

    Rubbish.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Steve – “So these food banks – do you just turn up and get free food? What’s to stop misers abusing them, or the morbidly obese rolling up in their mobility scooters to get some free snacks?”

    They are quite popular among backpackers I believe. As the Hari Krishnas used to be in my day. I don’t know, are they still around?

    ukliberty – “Rubbish.”

    And your evidence-free assertion is so much better than his comment (or evidence-free anecdote if you must) … why?

  14. @SMFS
    UKLib lives in a world where those he defines as needy can do no wrong. It wouldn’t occur to him, by & large, those who are “needy” are needy because of a long series of wrong personal choices. Lot of those wrong choices are doing what is expedient today without concern for the future. So around what one might call ‘current’ genuinely needy are the great cloud of those in the process of making those wrong choices. The scroungers, layabouts, downright dishonest who’ll all consider themselves equally or more entitled to benefit. And, of course, they’ll the depredations of hose administering the scheme. Because I can too well remember wealthy middle class socialists picking through donations to “Support the Miners” food banks looking for choice items & using them as a convenient source for consumables like sugar, rice, flour, tea, coffee etc.

  15. UKLib lives in a world where those he defines as needy can do no wrong.

    A lot of time would be saved if people argued with what is said instead of what they imagine.

    And, of course, they’ll the depredations of hose administering the scheme.

    Were you a bit over-excited when you typed that?

  16. SMFS – I haven’t seen a Hari Krishna since one tried to solicit money from me “for charity” in a train station in the mid 1990’s. (the joke was on him, I didn’t have any money but I did give him a hearty “Gouranga!”)

    Ukliberty – I’ve been poor before. Proper poor, as in barely able to afford the cheapest food in Farmfoods (Iceland’s poor relation), only luxury was a 2 litre bottle of Spar’s own-brand version White Lightning cider on weekends poor. So poor I’m surprised Jarvis Cocker didn’t write a patronising song about my poor plight.

    The great thing about being poor is you get to meet all sorts of fascinating people, like the sullen Jobcentre staff who threaten to cut off your benefits because you once missed your bus across town to sign on (full disclosure: a couple of them were genuinely helpful and tried their best to help me find a job). You also meet people who clearly have no intention of getting off benefits, whose ambition is to graduate to being on disability. Like the guy with tattoos on his face who always wants to talk about his days in the National Front, or the aggressively demeanoured immigrants who can barely speak English but who seem to know exactly what they can claim and command a strange sort of deference from the Jobcentre staff.

    So I think I have some understanding of what I’m talking about.

  17. @UK Lib
    “A lot of time would be saved if people argued with what is said instead of what they imagine.”
    As you’ve dismissed what seemed to be a perfectly reasonable comment by Steve with the single word “rubbish” one’s inevitably reduced to imagining what you meant by it.

  18. And even more time would be saved by giving reasons for your one word dismissal in the first place. You might be right but who knows given that you only wrote one word.

    If it is some Zen thing well that might be different…

  19. So Much For Subtlety

    ukliberty – “A lot of time would be saved by asking what is meant instead of imagining what is meant.”

    As I did. You have still not answered it. You can hardly blame other people for filling the void where your credibility ought to be.

  20. SFMS, I think I’ve said to you before that your posts aren’t worth my time – it’s evident you’re not interested in civil discussion, you seem more interested in talking at people instead of with them, and arguing with straw men instead of what people have actually said.

    Mr Ecks, I think ‘the benefits culture’, this idea of handouts, the conflation of deserving and undeserving poor, etc, is a poison intended to divide society and distract us from the bigger picture. Part of the bigger picture is that the people in government can’t actually do what most people expect them to do – most people seem to think the economy can be managed by pulling levers or whatever and if only we had the right people pulling the levers everything would be fine but of course that is false (Chris Dillow has written some good stuff about that). What matters is ‘systems’ and what is ’emergent’ from those systems.

    I’m sure there are unemployed people who refuse work when offered but I don’t believe they presently constitute the majority of unemployed. I am sure there are people who choose to remain on benefits but quite why they would want to live on that sort of budget I don’t know. And at the moment are they really worth bothering with given the numbers who do want to work but can find no work? There are not enough jobs for all who want to work let alone for those who don’t.

    And are there really people “easily obtaining” or “forging” permission to get food from foodbanks for the sake of a freebie? I find it hard to believe they constitute the majority and no-one in thread has provided any figures. ISTM it might just be that the economy is in dire straits and people are desperate and that is why they are going to food banks. In any case the benefits going to the jobless are dwarfed by the benefits paid to pensioners and people in work with children. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are dwarfed by ‘handouts’ like home buying subsidies (summed together).

    Our economy is such that unemployment is a feature, a natural consequence of it – indeed iiuc some economists say it’s a necessity. So the question for me is what we do about unemployment, what kind of society and economy we want, and whether we are putting in place mechanisms to mitigate the negative things about our economy. What for example are ‘we’ doing about the (apparent) fact that any routine work, cognitive or manual, will be outsourced or automated if it’s cheaper? Seems to me nothing is being done, instead people are being persuaded to be shitty with one another. And in the foreseeable it’s not going to get better.

  21. Ukliberty – I don’t think anybody suggested the majority of unemployed people don’t want to get off benefits. Or that the majority of people using food banks are “at it”.

    Is there a significant and growing minority of people whose lifestyles are deliberately parasitic on the welfare state? Absolutely. And we shouldn’t be surprised by this, we’ve known for centuries that if you subsidise something you get more of it. We’ve been subsidising the Mick Phillpotts of this world for quite a while now.

    I have no idea how society should best respond to the challenges of globalisation and technological change, but I do object to being robbed blind by the taxman to pay for people who have no intention of working. If that means being shitty to, say, single mothers who’ve never worked a day in their lives and have five kids from five different fathers, well boo bloody hoo.

    One of the most crippling myths afflicting people in our society is that the world somehow owes us a living.

  22. Is there a significant and growing minority of people whose lifestyles are deliberately parasitic on the welfare state? Absolutely.

    Please cite.

    We’ve been subsidising the Mick Phillpotts of this world for quite a while now.

    I do object to being robbed blind by the taxman to pay for people who have no intention of working. If that means being shitty to, say, single mothers who’ve never worked a day in their lives and have five kids from five different fathers, well boo bloody hoo.

    One of the most crippling myths afflicting people in our society is that the world somehow owes us a living.

    What size of problems are those, really? And are those problems we can solve? ISTM they are small problems and ’emergent’ from the system we have. In which case the solution is not to engage in the language of punishment and methods of penalty (which might come with non-trivial costs) but to create a different system from which those problems will emerge smaller if at all.

  23. Ukliberty – “please cite”

    In 1992 we had approximately 1m people on disability living allowance. By 2012 it was over 3m. I do not believe the number of badly disabled people in our society tripled in less than a generation. I think this statistic is illustrative of the growth of an underclass of permanent welfare dependents.

    “What size of problems are those, really? And are those problems we can solve? ISTM they are small problems and ‘emergent’ from the system we have. In which case the solution is not to engage in the language of punishment and methods of penalty (which might come with non-trivial costs) but to create a different system from which those problems will emerge smaller if at all.”

    Once we stop financially incentivising the dullest and least productive members of our society to have umpteen kids with no intention of paying for their upkeep, and stop the corresponding punitive levels of taxation on working class and middle class families that stop them from being able to afford as many children as they otherwise might like, the problems associated with our present demographic and social trajectory should abate.

    The poor will always be with us, but that doesn’t mean we should encourage people to remain poor.

  24. @ Steve
    “In 1992 we had approximately 1m people on disability living allowance. By 2012 it was over 3m. I do not believe the number of badly disabled people in our society tripled in less than a generation. I think this statistic is illustrative of the growth of an underclass of permanent welfare dependents. ”
    That is partly because DLA only started in 1992 and did not cover anyone *then* over state pension age but continues to cover anyone already in receipt of DLA passing state pension age. Technical point but it should account for over 0,5m of the 2m increase, so a fairly big technical point.
    Secondly DLA is what is confusingly called an “in-work benefit”. So a recipient does not lose it if he/she gets a job. DLA recipients include some who are working full-time and contributing more through the one-third of their tax bill that goes on welfare than they receive. The number of unemployed DLA recipients has gone up following the closure of most Remploy factories but that is not *their* fault – it is the fault of the horrendously incompetent people appointed to the board under New Labour.
    There are more, a lot more, permanent welfare dependents than in my youth but most of the unemployed would take jobs if they could get one and are less parasitic than certain employees and consultants (I’ve been a consultant and the team I joined was always trying to work itself out of a job because that meant we had succeeded, but some others took a different view) and you should be careful not to smear disabled workers who deserve our admiration or those unable to work/get jobs due to disability who deserve sympathy.

  25. So Much For Subtlety

    ukliberty – “SFMS, I think I’ve said to you before that your posts aren’t worth my time – it’s evident you’re not interested in civil discussion, you seem more interested in talking at people instead of with them, and arguing with straw men instead of what people have actually said.”

    Yeah but first of all other people asked too and you have also failed to reply to them and second, you don’t mean it. You always reply if you think you have a solid argument. It is a reflection of your inability to win, not lack of desire to try.

    The rest is just projection.

  26. No, I reply if I can be bothered. If you demonstrate you’re not interested in civil, reasonable discussion, e.g. by arguing with straw men, I’m less inclined to reply.

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