- DWP boss’ local councils forced to fund food banks
- But cabinet minister refused to meet charity bosses
- Even Tory think tank says benefits regime to blame
Two councils covering Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency have been forced to spend £70,000 to support food banks. The news emerges three months after the cabinet minister snubbed repeated requests for a face-to-face meeting by accusing the UK’s largest food bank charity of “scaremongering”.
BBC Panorama is set to report that a third of councils are funding food banks, with the burden on local authorities running to £3 million per year. They include the two of the three covering Duncan Smith’s Chingford and Woodford Green constituency.
Back in December it was revealed that Duncan Smith had yet again refused to meet with the Christian-run Trussell Trust food bank, complaining that charity bosses have “repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network to welfare reform”:
“I strongly refute this claim and would politely ask you to stop scaremongering in this way. I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but I’m concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear.”
But the Duncan Smith’s defence is now crumbling — with a Tory think tank breaking ranks to underscore the link between the harsh new sanctions regime and food bank use. A report from Policy Exchange — founded by Michael Gove and Francis Maude and described as “David Cameron’s favourite think tank” — released today states:
“With some estimates suggesting that 43% of those referred to food banks are there due to benefit stoppage or being refused a crisis loan, it is clear that there is not currently an adequate safety net for those who are wrongly sanctioned”
Whether it’s Universal Credit, benefits sanctions or food banks, Iain Duncan Smith inhabits his own fantasy world.