Poor taking items back to food banks as they can’t afford to cook, Oxfam claims

 

Deputy Political Editor

More than one third of councils are subsidising meals at food banks while some families are so short of cash they are returning food which they cannot afford to heat, it emerged on Sunday night.

An investigation has discovered that town halls have spent almost £3 million on feeding benefit claimants and low-paid workers who resort to foodbanks.

They include the local authorities in North-East London which cover the constituency of Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary.

He also faced fresh criticism last night over the number of mistakes made in benefit assessments of low-income families who are forced to turn to foodbanks as a result of the errors.

BBC1’s Panorama reports on Monday that 140 of the 375 councils in England and Wales are giving cash to foodbanks in their areas.

Some are paying for food, while the majority are covering management, administration or accommodation costs for foodbanks. Between them they have set aside £2.9 million over the last two years, according to the programme.

The London boroughs of Waltham Forest and Redbridge constituencies, which cover Mr Duncan Smith’s constituency, have spent almost £70,000.

Derbyshire County Council, which has invested £126,000 in food banks, said food poverty had overtaken healthy eating as its most pressing public health concern.

Julie Hirst, a public health specialist at the council, said: “It’s become an issue of food poverty and some people in the country are not being able to eat at all and if people can’t eat at all, what's the point in trying to get them to eat healthily?”

The Department for Work and Pensions said there was “no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks”.

It added that local councils were best placed to provide emergency help to residents and had been given extra money to cover their costs.

But Oxfam Scotland Sunday disclosed that some people were handing back food because they did not have enough credit in their electricity meters to switch on their cooker.

A spokesman, Francis Stuart, told the Scottish Parliament: “One of the most shocking pieces of evidence we have seen is people who use food banks have started giving back items that need cooking because they can’t afford to turn on the electricity to cook the food they desperately need.”

In a report Monday, the Tory-leaning think tank, Policy Exchange, said an estimated 68,000 jobseekers a year have their benefits unfairly withdrawn, leading to “unnecessary hardship” and growing numbers relying on food banks.

They include claimants who have failed to attend a Jobcentre interview for the first time and receive a sanction which is later overturned on appeal.

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales pointed to the proliferation of food banks as stepped up his criticism of the Coalition’s welfare reform policies.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that the reforms could not be at the cost of “casting people into destitution.”

He added: “When I sit and listen to my priests and they say when they put, through the food bank, three days’ food in front of a woman with her children and she bursts into tears because she hasn’t eaten for three days, that’s not a fantasy. That’s human lives.”

 

Hungry Britain? is broadcast at 8.30pm on Monday on BBC1.

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
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
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

SEN Science Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum + SEN allowance: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are ...

MLD Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: MLD teachers required West Midlands...

Media Studies Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are recruiting for a M...

History Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices