Growth in Food Bank Usage makes the case for Minimum Income Standard
The incredible Trussell Trust has reported record increases in the use of its food banks with a record 2.5 million emergency food parcels were distributed to people in crisis by food banks in the Trussell Trust network. A 33% increase on the previous year and a devastating 128% increase on the same period five years ago (2015/16).
In a powerful blog that should make every politician stop and question what is happening in this wealthy country - the Trust’s Research Manager Tom Weekes writes
“Years of exponential growth in need for food banks, and the gradual erosion of financial security for people on the lowest incomes has been brought into stark focus in the last year. We cannot continue like this; this is why we are calling on all levels of government to act and develop a plan to end the need for food banks once and for all.”
Taxpayers Against Poverty (TAP) echoes Tom’s call for action. And we support the Trussell Trust in its demand for a plan to end the need for food banks once and for all.
A national minimum income standard can help end the need for food banks
Whilst we recognise that action to end the conditions that create the need for food banks will be complex and need to take many forms, we believe that the introduction of a national minimum income standard should be one critical component of a successful plan.
Food banks are important and sadly increasingly necessary as austerity, precarious low paid employment and unemployment, and government social security policy such as universal credit bite ever deeper and ever more harshly. They are an incredible manifestation of community solidarity. Those who donate and those who volunteer are to be commended. However, they would be the first to argue that in 2021 there should be no need for such community provision.
Food and housing should be human rights, not luxuries
Families and individuals should have sufficient income to a decent standard of living including affordable housing and the ability to purchase sufficient food. These are not luxuries. They should be human rights. They should be universal entitlements whether people are in work or not.
This is a simple demand. Solving poverty and food poverty requires political will. The current state of trends in poverty and inequality are consequences of political choices. We need different and better choices.
The social, economic and moral case for minimum income standard
The introduction of minimum income standard would benefit families across the country. It would reduce their dependency on food banks and it would contribute to ending food poverty. It would reduce stress and improve mental and physical health which in turn would reduce demand pressures on the NHS. It would lead to improved educational outcomes – the Covid pandemic has highlighted the ratio of family income to educational opportunity and outcomes.
People on lower incomes when they have additional disposable income have a much higher propensity to spend it than those with higher incomes. Consequently, a minimum income standard would create economic activity and have a positive multiplier effect. It would lead to increased tax receipts for the Treasury.
The economic case for a minimum income standard is powerful and the combination of the economic and social case is overwhelming. The addition of the moral case simply makes the case unchallengeable and undeniable surely for anyone of compassion and common humanity.
Let’s act NOW!
Let’s support local food banks such as those run by the Trussell Trust but let’s join them in campaigning for change.
Let’s campaign for a minimum income standard.
Let’s demonstrate solidarity with our fellow citizens and their children, Let’s act now.