Monday, 3 November 2014

Food banks must not become institutionalised in a land of billionaires

The news of a rising number of people using the foodbank in Waltham Forest mirrors what is happening across the country.

The question that should be asked is why in a country of more than 100 billionaires are more than a million people going to foodbanks.

The growing use of foodbanks runs hand in hand with an austerity agenda that has seen the pay of the directors of the FTSE 100 companies going up by 21% in the past year (Income Data Services), compared to 2% for the rest of the population.

The last five years has seen a visible shift of more than a million people from secure reasonably paid work into low paid insecure work. It is these developments in the workplace compounded by cuts to benefits that have forced more and more people toward foodbanks. How can this be situation acceptable in such a rich society?

There is the danger that the foodbank will become institutionalised as they have in Canada, where 20 years ago they began to dismantle the welfare state in a similar way to what has been occurring in this country.

Foodbanks were introduced as a stop gap, yet today they are more prevalent than ever in Canada. It is good to support foodbanks but we must never lose sight of the question as to why in such a rich countries they need to exist in the first place?

* published Wanstead and Woodford Guardian - 30/10/2014

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