£3m spend on food poverty and food banks by councils
BBC Panorama has found that almost £3m of public money is being used to help tackle food poverty.
A third of all councils in England and Wales have said they’ve had to subsidise food banks. The government has said that local authorities were now responsible for providing emergency help. The Bishop of Manchester has said the government needed to be “explicit whether food banks are to be part of the system.”
BBC Panorama asked all 375 councils in England and Wales if they were funding food banks and if so by how much. 323 councils responded and 140 said they were providing funding, which is over a third of all councils.
It was discovered that £2.9m of public money was spent by councils over the past two years to help feed people.
Derbyshire County Council has said they will be investing £126,000 from its public health budget into food banks this year.
“If people can’t eat at all, what’s the point in trying to get them to eat healthily?” said Julie Hirst, Public Health Specialist at Derbyshire County Council. “I’m responsible for promoting the health of the people of Derbyshire, and if people haven’t got enough food to eat, I’ve got to do something about it.”
The Department for Work and Pensions said food banks were not part of the benefits system. “Local authorities are now responsible for providing short-term, emergency help to those who need it and additional funding has been devolved to help them do so.”
The Trussell Trust and Citizens Advice Bureau have said the main causes in the rise and demand of food banks is due to problems with benefits, low income and debt.
“The benefits system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed and there is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to the increased use of food banks.”
Panorama: Hungry Britain?, BBC One, Monday 3 March at 20:30 GMT.
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