Thinking Anglicans

All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty

The All Party Parliamentary Group on food poverty released its report Feeding Britain today. The Group was chaired by the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and Frank Field MP.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke at the launch and a copy of his speech is available here, and an article written by the Archbishop on food poverty in the Mail on Sunday is available here.

There was much media anticipation of the report overnight.

Patrick Wintour and Patrick Butler The Guardian Tories seek to avert rift with Church of England over food bank report
and Nick Clegg calls for rethink on benefits sanctions to help tackle food poverty
Andy McSmith The Independent Food banks: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urges politicians to face up to Britain’s hunger
Matthew Holehouse The Telegraph Families go hungry as supermarkets send millions of tonnes of food for landfill
ITV News ‘Stop food waste and speed up benefits payments to end UK hunger,’ say MPs and church in foodbank report
Hannah Richardson BBC News ‘Pay benefits faster’ to reduce hunger, MPs urge

And more since publication

Graham Riches The Guardian Food banks don’t solve food poverty. The UK must not institutionalise them
Rose Troup Buchanan The Independent Almost 50% of referrals to food banks in the UK are due to ‘issues with the welfare system’
Frank Field and John Glen New Statesman Food banks: why can’t people afford to eat in the world’s sixth richest country?
Lucinda Borkett-Jones Christian Today Britain’s hunger crisis: Bishop of Truro says benefits system doesn’t work
Keith Hebden Ekklesia Feeding Britain: A start, but much more emphasis on justice needed

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Malcolm DixonSavi HensmanErika BakerCynthiaFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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Paul Richardson
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Paul Richardson

It is not just on Food Banks but also on Drop in Centres that many are now relying on for their basic food needs, such as our Parish “Open Door” Drop In. This feeds up to 20 people 3 times a week in our small Market Town. Some of these have been very vulnerable people who have become “victims” of benefits delays in payments and of sanctions imposed.

Laurie
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Laurie

This must be one of the most important and pressing threads on Thinking Anglicans for a long time.

It is encouraging that the Archbishop of Canterbury is speaking out on this vital matter.

Tim Chesterton
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Well said, Laurie. Here in Canada, too, this is a pressing need.

Laurie
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Laurie

Hearing what Paul says about the Drop In centres also puts us further in the picture.

I think it would good too hear, here from various churches, parishes, groups and so on, to help build up our understanding of it, for action and prayer.

Also the policy implications of these reports re e.g. ‘sanctioning’ and the terrible effects of payment ‘processing’ and payments.

The government seem to have forgotten real people involved and terrible hardship for children.

Laurie
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Laurie

I didn’t know this was going on in Canada too, Tim.

Very worrying. How has it come about in your country I wonder?
I know the government is very Conservatively oriented.

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

Regrettably opinion polls suggest that many laypersons believe that the benefit system should be even harsher. Figuring out how to change such perceptions is a challenge.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

It’s patchy in Canada, Laurie, as we are a federation of provinces, and stuff like social assistance tends to be a provincial responsibility, so policies vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. I live in Alberta, which is the most conservative province in the country, and our provincial coffers depend heavily on oil revenue. When the price goes down (as it currently is doing) stuff gets cut, as we are rather allergic to progressive tax systems here. We have the lowest minimum wage in the country, I believe. In my city of Edmonton you do well if you work in the oil… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

An excellent and timely report but where is the Conservative Cabinet Minister who will label it as “Marxist”, as in the good old days of “Faith in the City”, when Robert Runcie was on St. Augustine’s throne and the Church of England formed the most effective opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s government? Oh, how we miss the Chingford Skinhead.

Father Ron Smith
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Jesus said: “The Poor you will always have with you”. I guess such a situation is always an opportunity for us ALL to give that little bit extra. Institutions alone cannot bear the burden!

Cynthia
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Cynthia

The food situation is dreadful here in the US as well. The dysfunction in Washington is such that the Republicans sneak cuts in food assistance into every bill (exaggerations, but still). Combine that with the fact that poor neighborhoods are often “food deserts” without grocery stores with healthy food. AND note that the available healthy food is more expensive than unhealthy food. The result is hunger and poor health. And a bizarre phenomenon of poor and undernourished people who are also overweight. A large percentage of kids are impacted, around 25 percent, depending on the state. The large food bank… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

I’m currently reading “Theonomics: Reconnecting Economics with Virtue and Integrity”, a fascinating book edited by Andrew Lightbown and Peter Sills. It argues strongly for a market economy rooted in Christian ethics and makes fascinating reading.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Theonomics-Reconnecting-Economics-Virtue-Integrity-ebook/dp/B00LV7HCZW

Amazon allow a “look inside”. Just don’t buy it from them until they treat their staff properly and pay their taxes!

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

It’s a good question Cynthia, and the answer, I’m afraid, is on benefits and on paying the interest on our unimaginably large national debt. But, lest you think I am incurably right-wing, the benefits to which this report refers are only a small proportion of the total benefits bill. The largest part of the benefits bill goes to old people (like me). We get state pensions, free travel passes, winter fuel payments, free prescriptions and numerous other benefits, none of which are means-tested. It is an absurd use of the Government’s limited resources, so why does it happen? Because pensioners… Read more »

Savi Hensman
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Savi Hensman

If the government wished to reduce the national debt, cutting individual and corporation tax by billions of pounds (largely benefiting high earners) and pursuing policies that leave many low-earners reliant on benefits would not be prudent.

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

You’re right, Savi. It wouldn’t be prudent, if that had happened, but it didn’t, at least not entirely. True, corporation tax was reduced, but that is part of the global ‘race to the bottom’ in corporate taxation, which needs reversing, but that can only be done by global agreement or else we risk losing even more jobs and tax revenue. But by far the largest change in individual taxation has been for low earners, where the personal allowance has doubled over the course of this parliament, taking millions of low earners out of income taxation altogether. How does that leave… Read more »