• 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

Iain Duncan Smith

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 useA 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.

  1. Three new food banks have just opened in my hometown; no doubt they’ll not be the last.

    I recently watched two homeless lads, who’d been sleeping in the doorway of the local W H Smith’s, being harassed by two overzealous cops with nothing better to do with their time.

    “Great Britain?” Don’t make me laugh.

  2. I have a friend had to wait just over a month to switch from ESA to the new universal credit system. With minor debts to pay (electric,phone bill) he was able to forward some of this money on. As UC is paid monthly unlike before, the first installment is be due at the end of this month, but when that time comes, the forwarded amount of before will obviously be deducted. So they will be left with far less. So, where will the majority be going in a similar situation that are unable to find work in their area with bills to pay and these kind of deductions? Most likely straight to Wonga or an equivalent money lender. They won’t wait for the DWP’s poor IT tech to catch up or update to any new system. Does Ian Duncan Smith have any connection with money lenders or even realise what he is doing to his own country? The reports of thousands of job seekers and disabled in need of food banks and even the taking of some of their own lives according to popular newspapers has not shocked me. He may claim anyone can live off around £60 per week, but I don’t see him taking time out of his 2 million pound mansion on his £130,000 per year salary to attempt to prove it to anyone anytime soon.

    Benefits paid per month into a claimants bank account instead of fortnightly will be adding further hardship for those not able to manage their money as well as the rest, and not being paid directly to landlords initially may now put landlords right off anyone on benefit. On top of this, with any ‘sanctions’ (reductions to future benefit,sometimes even a gap period of no money as a result of some not doing enough of a required 35 hour jobsearch per week, not able to prove what they’ve searched or applied for, or accidentally missed appointments), it almost seems the governments true aim is to punish or remove the poorest from our society. Job done!

    In general,the idea of health tests to get rid of those scrounging off the system is a good one, but there have been too many changes at once, and it has been executed poorly. The waiting period of no benefit for some after an ATOS test of near ‘0 points’ for so many has led to scepticism – so many switching benefit type and the DWP technology not being up to keep up could increase homelessness, gambling,depression and even crime. A foreign IT company doing health check ups via general surveys with no true qualifications in healthcare always sounded like a bad move – ie the government trying to save money. Perhaps this could have worked alongside good GP communication and given info, if they could not simply hire GP’s to conduct these surveys in the first place, but as ATOS likely had a set quota to get as many off benefit as possible and make themselves as much money as possible, it was arguably doomed to begin with.

  3. Mr Smith, you say councils spend £70k on food banks, could you please tell how much is wasted on your bonuses?

  4. 4 months unemployed. Government have allocated me £210 of which they want £82 back as they over paid. My rent hasn’t been paid, no food. Contacted every MP I could think of. Emailed Theresa May. Iain Duncan Smith will see me on the 9th of December. Can I sue my Government for abuse and putting my health at risk?

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