A Trussell Trust foodbank. Photo credit: Newfrontiers via photopin cc

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A Conservative councillor has caused uproar after saying that food banks are visited by unemployed people who get “really good benefits”.

Conservative councillor Dawn Barnett called for tighter restrictions on food banks after claiming the system is being abused by benefit claimants who are “not in need”.

The Argus reports that Councillor Barnett, who represents the Hove ward in Brighton and Hove, said she knows of local residents who visit food banks while being comfortably off living on benefits.

The number of food banks in the city has doubled from six to twelve since 2012 – supporting 270 households per week with food parcels, compared to 220 in 2012 – with more set to open soon.

Cllr. Dawn Barnett told the Argus: “I know of people who are getting really good benefits that are going to charity food banks and coming out with big bags of food.”

“These people are not in need of these handouts.

“I think these charities need to find where the genuine need is. There are a lot of people who don’t go along to food banks who are in much more need than these people I have seen use the service.”

A furious spokesperson for the Trussell Trust, who runs one food bank in the city and will be opening a second soon, said:

“Everybody who comes to the Trussell Trust is referred by a frontline professional such as a social worker, health visitor or doctor to ensure that the need is genuine.

“These workers are much more likely to come across people than we would be able to find working with them and they can make people in crisis aware of food banks.”

She added that people have to be referred to the service and will receive up to three food parcels before the charity returns to the professional who referred them. This may include a health care expert, Job Centre, local authority or other professional person or organisation.

Labour Councillor Emma Daniel blamed benefit cuts for the increase in food bank users and called for more food collection points in the city.

She added: “I regularly come across mothers who I can see are clearly not eating enough and look malnourished.

“Free school meals help their children, but it is painful to see that they are struggling to afford food for themselves.”

Figures from the Trussell Trust show that 30.93% of people are referred to food banks nationwide due to benefit delays, while 16.97% are referred because of welfare reforms.

Source: Trussell Trust
Source: Trussell Trust

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Photo credit: Newfrontiers via photopin cc

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  1. I am a carer looking after a disabled young adult. We were finding it difficult but we were adjusting to the reduction in our benefits caused by the Conservative government’s policies. These meant that I had a lot more of the mortgage interest to pay plus 25% of our Council tax from a reducing income. Three months before our Tax credits were due to expire they decided without warning, to do a review. They stopped payments just before Christmas. It took them two and a half months to resume payments, that was only two weeks before they expired due to my daughter’s age. Despite the fact that I had applied for the new benefits in good time, it took five further months before the payments were finally settled and they only backdated them for one month. At one time we were living on £80 per week. Over Christmas, and again at a later stage I had to ask for a box from the food bank. Vouchers for the food bank are given out by official agencies like the Job centre and the police. You cannot misuse the service. No one would apply for it if they didn’t have to. It made the difference between going hungry or having no electric and gas for us but it wasn’t our fault. It wasn’t fecklessness or misuse of our benefits, it was the benefits agency itself which caused us to be in a position where we had no choice.

  2. What business is it of the Tory harridan anyway? It is not tax payers money, it is a charity. Nothing to do with her and her Conservative Class Warriors waging their War Against the Poor. The main reason for the use of Food Banks is because the DWP cannot do its job accurately and in a timely fashion. What are “Good Benefits”? She thinks £72 per week for a single adult, is a “good benefit” because that’s what she spends on her caviar and champagne for one meal. Typical Tory. Barnett has form too, she is also bigoted against gypsies and tried to get them to stop camping in her ward and gave them directions on how to get to the next Ward, represented by a Green councilor.

  3. I think most people on benefits go out to the food banks is because most of their money goes on paying for huge utility bills from what use to be profitble public enterprises to very unprofitable for the public now privatised firms! That coupled with creating a artificial shortage of homes and high costs of housing has screwed the people our of their national assets into the hands of abusive private entrepreneurs. We had it fine once when we owned most of the infrastructure of the nationa collectively !

  4. More rhetoric from the master party of lies. We have areas of the country with children with rickets and malnutrition People are very quick to latch onto sound bites like these and think those on benefits are living on the fat of the land with cable tv etc. and are getting £500 a week. They really need to get rid of this government.

    • Rrickets are caused by a lack of vitamin D the best way of getting vitamin D is from sunlight so instead of keeping their child indoors 24/7 watching TV or playing computer games let them go outside in the sunshine and the best bit its free

  5. well the tories have borrowed more than the last labour government did meaning we are more in debt than we were when the tories came to power

  6. Benefits in the UK are amongst the lowest in the EU, so low in fact, that the UK government is in breach of the EU social charter, for delivering benefit entitlement that is “manifestly inadequate.”

    While MPs get £160 a week in grocery benefit, because they claim their basic pay for their part time job of £66k a year, isn’t enough to buy food with.

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