Reply to Argument that It’s the Poor’s Own Fault They Can’t Afford Food

We’ve all heard the arguments from the Tories and their lapdogs in the press denying the reality of hunger and starvation here in the UK. Tories like Edwina Currie, amongst others, have told us that people aren’t really desperate when they go to food banks. It’s just that’s free food. Or else they can’t cook properly, or when they do eat, they choose expensive meals that they can’t afford. Now there are some individuals, to which this does apply. But it is by no means the complete picture for everyone suffering ‘food poverty’. The real causes of people going to food banks or otherwise going hungry are benefit cuts and wage stagnation. Incomes now lag behind inflation, so that many people are simply unable to afford basic food items. Rebecca O’Connell and Laura Hamilton make this very clear in their chapter, ‘Hunger and Food Poverty’, in Cooper’s and Whyte’s The Violence of Austerity. They write

Reports of rising food poverty and food bank use have largely been ignored or dismissed by the UK government, with politicians suggesting that supply is fuelling demand and blaming the poor for lacking budgeting skills, making poor food ‘choices’ and being unable to cook. In contrast to government discourse, however, research shows that the cost of food relative to disposable income (affordability) is crucial and that in the wake of the financial crisis and the subsequent policies of economic austerity, the affordability of food was severely reduced. (p. 95).

I’ve put this up because this is an argument we have heard again and again. And it’s an argument you can bet the Tories will repeat ad nauseam. But it’s garbage. And it is going to need refuting again and again with passages like the above.

This Tory lie cannot be attacked and refuted too often.

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9 Responses to “Reply to Argument that It’s the Poor’s Own Fault They Can’t Afford Food”

  1. A6er Says:

    Reblogged this on Tory Britain!.

  2. trev Says:

    Absolutely. I volunteer at an independently run foodbank that provides up to 200 food parcels per week. Clients have to be referred, usually by the CAB or Social Services or in some cases by their GP. Some clients are in work, others are in receipt of Benefits but have been Sanctioned, some are waiting for Universal Credit to be processed, or for a ESA/PIP Appeal, and various other circumstances such as debts, arrears, or women fleeing violence, etc. Since Universal Credit was partially introduced in our area about two years ago we have seen a 300% increase in referrals. You can’t just turn up and ask for free food without first being referred and then assessed. Probably most people on JSA would be glad of a food parcel but resources are limited and therefore needs must be prioritized. Demand has increased year on year and we have had to expand into larger premises. We also provide kitchenware, bedding, towels and toiletries besides food.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks for this, Trev, and for volunteering at the food bank. I’ve heard before that people have to be referred there by the Jobcentre before they can use a food bank. Someone actually told that to Edwina Currie when she appeared on a programme about food banks, claiming that people were only using them because it was free food. But even after she was told this, she still wouldn’t accept it. Well, I’d supposed she’d have to. She could hardly admit she was wrong.

      Mike’s also run several pieces about the vast increase in poverty the rollout of Universal Credit has caused in those areas. It’s incredible that there should be a 300 per cent increase in food bank use. That alone should discredit the scheme utterly.

      • trev Says:

        Jobcentres no longer refer people, they point them to the CAB who then decide whether to refer them to the foodbank. So no direct link exists, no paper trail, between Jobcentre and foodbank, which enables the DWP to wash their hands and shrug their shoulders – “we don’t refer anyone to foodbanks”.

      • beastrabban Says:

        Thanks for clearing that up, too. That explains so much.

      • Jeffrey Davies Says:

        Trev the cab is paid by the dwp it gets its monies from them all tied together cab helps those in need of but gets its hands tied if it took to attacking the dwp it’s another dwp trick. Just like ice when you have a go at dwp in parliament it’s dwp who gets a say it’s bent broken beyond recognition

  3. Jeffrey Davies Says:

    Aktion T4 rolling along with out much of a ado. Yet it’s happening daily nah people’s sayeth this is just a lie yet people are dying daily being abused by this government through benefits denial which in turn leaves them without yet people donot believe it’s happening rather believe the Tory lie

  4. Florence Says:

    In a small rural and remote community we have set up a “food pod” to assist local families in need. Not a food bank. It’s too far to go to the CAB and to the food bank. We just give food to those who need it, including weekly support to a woman who is too unwell to go out. It’s the ones who can’t even engage who are the most in need. They also need to know there is no judgement because these families already feel they are failing their children. This particular lady went 4 days without food to feed her son. These are the every day casulaties of austerity.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Respect to you and everyone else who’s done this, Florence. And to everyone who gives and volunteers at one up and down this country. It’s horrific and shocking that these are needed. And it’s stomach-turning the way the Tories and their pet liars in the press continue to deny that their policies have caused such suffering.

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