24/02/2014 - "Whitewash" claims greet foodbank report

Cries of “whitewash” greeted the publication of a report into food poverty for the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Delayed for a year, the report was unable to look at the impact of government welfare reforms or the continuing crisis in living standards that is gripping communities across the UK. The government said they were not allowed to consider this.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “The government has sat on this report for nearly year, refusing to publish it, refusing to meet with food bank providers, hoping the growing scandal of food poverty will go away.”

The report talks of food insecurity but can’t consider the cause of this - benefit chaos and shocking low wages. The half a million people using food banks do so to help ends meet. It therefore does not address why food banks have trebled in number since 2009 with over 300 outlets and at least 200,000 people expected to turn to them this year.

Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented:

“The authors of this report were very restricted in what they could look at. It doesn’t really tackle the real questions which are why so many ordinary people are relying on food hand-outs or why we have food poverty in the seventh richest nation in the world.”