Food banks are 'sign of return to Dickensian world', warns food expert

 

The rise of food banks risks eroding the state safety net as politicians endorse a "Dickensian" model of welfare, one of Britain's leading food policy experts has warned.

Nearly 350,000 people needed an emergency food handout in the past year. David Cameron has praised the volunteers who work in food banks as exponents of the so-called Big Society. But Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University and a former adviser to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the World Health Organisation, warned that ministers could allow charitable food banks to become "institutionalised" as an alternative to state support.

"The morals and motives of people who work in food banks are honourable, but it's a short-term fix, and the problem is that it's getting institutionalised and the politicians are buying it," Professor Lang told The Independent.

Although the Department for Work and Pensions insists that the Government already provides a safety net for essentials such as food through the benefit system, the Prime Minister has acknowledged that many struggle. Professor Lang said: "There ought to be a very big political debate about food banks. It should be a sign of shame that the sixth-richest economy on the planet has people who are essentially retreating to a Dickensian world. It's shocking how quickly it's been normalised." There's been an almost tenfold increase in the use of food banks since 2009-10.

Chris Mould, the executive chairman of the Trussell Trust, said that food banks were "a support for the welfare system and not a substitute" and criticised the Government for "knowingly making things worse for people on low incomes" with a number of policies, chief among them the adjustment of welfare payment increase to just 1 per cent annually.

The Trussell Trust, the leading charity which has 345 food banks around the country, provides three days' worth of food. Clients must be referred by a frontline professional such as a social worker, doctor or Jobcentre Plus employee, and it is Trussel Trust policy that an individual can receive only three handouts, to avoid dependency.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Learning Support Assistant - Newport

£65 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Due to the continual growth and...

Operations Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently recruiting for an Operati...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, Security Cleared

£100 - £110 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Ham...

Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz