YMCA research establishes link between ‘failings in the welfare system’ and increasing referrals to food banks.

19 November 2014

The new YMCA report Food for Thought reveals that last year they referred around 5000 young people to food banks across their 114 branches around the UK.

Despite criticism from the DWP that the link between welfare reform and the increased use of food banks is based on ‘anecdotal evidence’, the report showed that just under 4 in 5 (79 per cent) of referrals were the direct result of delays or sanctions to benefit payments. The report states that: ‘the new sanctions regime introduced in October 2012 was singled out as the main reason behind the growth in the numbers of young people living in food poverty.’

An earlier report by the YMCA found that 84 per cent of young people faced with sanctions report cutting back on essential items like food. Denise Hatton, chief executive of YMCAEngland comments that: ‘It is unacceptable in this day and age, that anyone should have to rely on the kindness of strangers in order to eat’

She told the Guardian: ‘For me, the benefit system is there to support the most vulnerable people. We are in touch with young people and we know the system which is there to protect them is failing them, and the government must want to do something about that.

The welfare system was set up to protect and provide a safety net for those individuals in their time of need and so that no one would be left without money to be able to afford food. However, our evidence shows it is failing in this role.’

Alex Bax the chief executive of Pathways, a charity which works with homeless people who are admitted to hospital, has this week blamed the ‘myriad of small cuts’ in the benefit system for the growth in street sleeping. Read the article in full from the Independent.

Public criticism of benefit sanctions continue to mount this week with the popularity of Peter Styles’ ‘67 jobs’ blog which voices the frustration of a Brighton resident, sanctioned by his local Jobcentre after applying for 67 jobs in the space of a fortnight. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) reports that the blog has ‘gone viral’ with 20,000 views in 60 hours.