Volunteers have sounded the alarm over a growing reliance on food banks in one of the richest areas in Britain.
Weekly earnings in Hart in Hampshire, recently named as the most desirable district in the country for quality of life, are a third higher than the national average. But the district also has three food banks, which have given out more than 1,000 emergency food parcels in the past six months.
Anti-poverty campaigners say that, even in wealthy areas such as Hart, benefit changes and low wages are creating growing pockets of desperate need.
“When we opened in 2011, people said, ‘Surely there’s no hardship in Hart?’, but a surprising number of people in this area are in clear need,” said Graham Bunch, the food banks administrator. He said most people who use the service are families and single people aged between 25 and 45. Benefit delays (33%), benefit changes (14%) and low income (20%) are cited as the main reasons. “Each voucher covers three days’ emergency crisis relief food, by which time we hope that the benefit system has caught up and the situation has improved, but it is taking longer for the benefit system to move.”
As you can see, it’s not the level of benefits that is the major problem. It’s the fact that the State is appallingly bad at administering the benefits system.
All of which makes the complaints that people are relying upon private charity rather than the State rather odd really. Assuming we want to actually solve the problem that is….