Benefit sanctions are increasing the need for food banks
Research has found that a high level of unemployment, poverty and government cuts is associated with the increased need for food banks.
Oxford University research has found that austerity policies such as benefit cuts are increasing the need for food banks across the UK. The research shows that food banks are mainly in areas that see high levels of unemployment and benefit sanctions, reports the Guardian.
Their report says “More food banks are opening in areas experiencing greater cuts in spending on local services and central welfare benefits and higher unemployment rates. The rise in food bank use is … concentrated in communities where more people are experiencing benefit sanctions. Food parcel distribution is higher in areas where food banks are more common and better established, but our data also show that the local authorities with greater rates of sanctions and austerity are experiencing greater rates of people seeking emergency food assistance.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The government spends £94bn a year on working-age benefits and provides a wide range of advice and assistance for anyone in need of additional support. The vast majority of benefits are processed on time with improvements being made year on year and the number of sanctions has actually gone down.”
The lead author of the study, Rachel Loopstra, said it was likely to have “underestimated the true burden of food insecurity in the UK” because food aid provision is patchy and data collection is relatively crude.
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