Local councils should invest in food banks: Lord Freud
The welfare minister, Lord Freud, has said that local councils should “ramp up support in kind”.
Lord Freud is being accused of “rowing away from the principle of welfare” due to his suggestion that local authorities invest money in food banks as he believes they are “absolutely appropriate” that free food parcels are provided to people who cannot afford groceries.
These comments have derived from a conference on welfare reform and Lord Freud says that society has had a “terrible economic thump” and had to find ways of working through it. He believes that food banks are “actually a very interesting way of doing it”, reports the Guardian.
He added: “I think that the local authorities and the local districts may very well look at ramping up their support in kind in that way, depending on where they are. I think that is one of the things that they are looking at and I think it's absolutely appropriate that they do so.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said that Freud was not making “a call to fund food banks” but was urging councils who provided in-kind support through local welfare assistance schemes to use food banks “as a means of delivering support in this way if that was what worked best for them”.
Whilst every council in England has set up welfare assistance schemes to replace the crisis loan and community care grant, the majority of schemes only offer in-kind support of food vouchers rather than cash assistance.
Executive chair of the Trussell Trust food bank, Chris Mould, has said it was good news that the importance of food banks has been recognised however the real issues is that low pay means the economy and employers were effectively being subsidised by food banks.
“That's not acceptable,” he said. “No one should start to assume that this is part of the way that the economy should operate in future.”
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