UN investigator slams UK government for forcing food banks to keep ‘picking up the pieces’

Tins of food and Theresa May
Ed Sykes

UN investigator Philip Alston is currently touring the UK to assess the scale of damage that Conservative-led austerity has caused in recent years. And he has slammed the government for outsourcing the task of ‘keeping people alive’, just as newly released figures show food-bank use is continuing to rise.

Food-bank use keeps rising to “pick up the pieces” for devastating Tory austerity

Announcing a 13% increase in food-bank use on the previous year, the Trussell Trust insisted on 6 November:

Foodbanks cannot continue to pick up the pieces – we have to make sure our benefits system can protect people from hunger.

Meanwhile, media reports suggest that many people are now “surviving day by day”:

And some of the accounts are utterly harrowing:

UN investigator speaks out: “you have issues here”

Speaking outside a Newcastle food bank which featured in the film I, Daniel Blake, Alston said:

When you have rates of maybe a third of children living in poverty and you have a food bank clientele at a place like this that is growing and growing and growing, you have issues here.

Alston also insisted that food banks were essentially turning into a “real safety net so that [people] don’t quite starve”, in the absence of effective government support. And he stressed that the government risked sending out the message that it “can just outsource these things” in the “hope that a private community is going to take it up and keep people alive”. That, he suggested, was unacceptable.

An end to austerity?

Between April 2017 and March 2018, Trussell Trust food banks distributed around 1.3 million three-day emergency food packages – 484,026 of which went to children.

And it is the Conservative Party’s capitalist extremism (neoliberalism) that led us to this point. This failed ideology, which hits the poorest people the hardest and only makes sense for the very richest, was not a necessity. The Conservatives chose to implement it – and they chose to do so in spite of all of the evidence against the doctrine, and the inequality and suffering it leaves in its wake.

We deserve so much better.

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Featured image via Teacher Dude/Flickr and Airman 1st Class Jeffrey Parkinson (image was altered)

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