Quotas for food bank vouchers at job centres?

Is an unofficial quota system for food bank vouchers operating at job centres? One man who called into a food bank in this London borough recently said he was told by his job centre that they’d given out 15 vouchers already that week. Persuading the staff there that he was in need was hard work. He said he did get a voucher eventually, but his experience begs a question. How many people in genuine need of an emergency supply of food are now being refused a food voucher by job centres?

There’s already a substantial level of need in this borough – a fairly typical one for London, with its pockets of deprivation. Between April 1 2013 and the end of January this year, Trussell Trust food banks in the borough fed 3,225 people (1937 adults and 1288 children). There was a month on month increase in clients from the middle of last year leading up to Christmas.

Everyone who received emergency help will have needed to present a voucher. But it’s vital to get a clearer idea of how many are trying to access help through job centres and are being refused that essential piece of paper.

With the number of people having their benefits sanctioned, or experiencing other delays (for example while their employment and support allowance entitlement is reassessed) on the increase, are job centres under orders to limit vouchers?

Accessing help to eat at short notice is becoming a fact of life for a growing number of people in this very average area of London. One experienced food bank helper here, whose day job is as an outreach worker in children’s services, says that half of the people coming to his food bank are there because of benefit sanctions. He adds: ‘A lot of them are on housing benefit. They have a roof over their heads, but they still have to eat.’ The most worrying thing is that they may be the ‘lucky’ ones, who managed to get their hands on that all-important voucher.

18 thoughts on “Quotas for food bank vouchers at job centres?

  1. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Just when you thought the Coalition really, really couldn’t get any worse, they find a new way of making you sick. Is there really no end to this government’s cruelty, it’s inhumanity, it’s need to persecute and degrade the very poorest?

  2. In a society which happily closes down a firm such as REMPLOY ,thus sacking THOUSANDS of seriously disabled people,simply to save a few miserable pounds by importing items made in Chinese Labour Camps ,I really can’t understand how people can continue to be surprised by just how heartless our government really is. If you wish to understand what our future is going to be then I suggest you go and read some Dickens. To decent people the Work House conditions described by Dickens are a admonition,to our present ruling elite they are a manifesto promise to be proud of!

    It is really very simple,either the majority stick together and refuse to be carved up simply to benefit the Rich or we will be divided up into easily managed groups and destroyed one after the other. Any economic system that claims that it is beneficial for the poor to be made poorer so that the rich can be made richer is clearly devised in a Business School run by a large White Rabbit and a Red Queen!

    1. No, the Trussell Trust, and independent charity, runs the food banks (not all of them, but they are the key provider) and collect food donations from churches, schools, etc. They supply food bank vouchers to job centres, GP surgeries, etc – but the DWP decided they wanted to have their own variation of the voucher. The one they use – surprise surprise – does not have a tick box indicating the reason for the crisis. Before it used to be clear if for example the crisis had been triggered by a benefit delay/sanction or a stopped benefit. In theory, the food banks are assuming that the staff in the job centre are well placed to decide if someone is in genuine need of help… But are the exercising their judgments well or are increasing numbers of people in real need of help being turned away as a way of managing down demand? No one really knows yet. I’ll be returning to the topic soon.

      1. Sorry I didn’t see this earlier, and thank you for the reply. Another naive question, then: by what right does the DWP apportion vouchers for food it does not provide?

  3. just so that they can say we haven’t given many out rtu workings no ne starving no one died yes hiding the figures away jeff3

  4. I suspect that DWP realise that they are having to issue a shedload of vouchers because of their draconian sanctions and because they are afraid it’ll all show up on the stats, they are rationing them so that they can say “see, hardly anybody gets food vouchers nowadays so these foodbank people are just scaremongering”

    1. Part of the problem is that we don’t have stats on how many people asking for vouchers are turned away by job centres. Can anyone help? I suspect its a growing issue though, as more people struggle. In the meantime I’ll put in a Freedom of Information request to DWP.

  5. Housing Associations and various other agencies can issue vouchers as well should you be in need. This is just another despicable low for the DWP. Bring in a basic income and scrap ALL means tested benefits for able bodied people.

  6. Food Banks are 3 vouchers in a year only.

    It may well be that the food banks cannot feed the millions who need food.

    But Food banks are a lie, because if you are hungry one day, you are hungry every day.

    What is needed is daily Soup Kitchens and these are easily afforded.

    Close down the Jobcentres and turn the staff into social kitchens, for those on benefits and those sanctioned, for the low income pensioners, and to meals on wheels for housebound elderly and disabled / chronic sick.

    How is it affordable?

    Because the government charges the food industry / retailers to throw perfectly safe food to eat just because it is past its display date, not a food safety end date, to take the edible food and throw it into landfill.

    So government profits whilst millions starve.

    As malnutrition is getting so great that doctors are seeing more and more admissions to hospital for starvation and Rickets has returned, then feeding people the working poor who include pensioners and disabled and women aged 60-66 and men 60-65 denied rightful age payout of state pension should be what the Jobcentres should be doing.

    Work does not pay. The Save the Children had a TV appeal for food banks to feed the working poor in the UK.

    No political party offers any change from this scenario as all believe in Austerity and Welfare Reform.

    Food bank need was rising under the last Labour government as they started Welfare Reform as far back as 2005.

    The communists in the UK, Left Unity Party have no interest in pensioners nor women denied pension at 60 nor men at 65.

    The Greens imposed Austerity on the one council The Greens rule, Brighton, that has a poor population in the town that include a lot of pensioenrs.

    Fascism killed the same people who are dying in the UK today from Welfare Reform and Austerity.

    Communism all over the world has left its population to starve and made life hard for its poorest peoples.

    What is needed is a whole new way of doing politics, focused on people, leaving none to starve whilst companies throw food away by the tons load.

    Only you can make that difference and help start a whole new political philosophy not entombed into the past of right and left, that will leave us in the future right back in this mess again, starving, homeless, freezing in our homes and working yet not affording a loaf of bread.

    The Swans

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