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Bradford children at food bank is a ‘scandal’
Hundreds of children are using Bradford’s emergency food bank, organisers have warned – as David Cameron refused an inquiry into the “scandal”.
The total number of people receiving a three-day aid package at the Jermyn Street centre has soared by 165 per cent this year. In the six months between April and September, the food bank fed 1,955 people – up from 748 in the equivalent period of 2012.
But those numbers include some 586 children fed over six months this year – an increase from 247 last year.
The figures were revealed as the Prime Minister rejected a call from the Trussell Trust charity for a public inquiry into the “scandalous” rise in food banks. Across the country, more than 350,000 people received food aid from the Trust in the six-month period this year – three times the number in the same period of 2012.
Mr Cameron’s spokesman again pointed to better information as a key reason for the rise, with Jobcentres now informing benefit claimants about the option.
But that was immediately disputed by Ben Haldane, the project manager at Bradford’s food bank, who said: “One of the main issues that we see is delays in benefit payments.
“Here, as in the rest of the UK, we now have about 50 per cent of our referrals due to benefit delays or changes.
“In the last six months, we have given out over 13.5 tonnes of food (13,516kg) and have received just under 11 tonnes (10,814kg).
“We are extremely grateful to all who continue to support us and are thankful to all the schools, churches and businesses planning on collecting for us this harvest season.”
Some £18 billion is being stripped from the social security bill in this parliament, including real-terms cuts to tax credits for the low-paid. Meanwhile, job centres have been told to stop the benefits of anyone deemed not to be actively looking for work, often for trivial reasons, MPs have protested.
Last week, British Red Cross announced it would provide volunteers to support Tesco’s collections for food banks, because it is so concerned by levels of hunger in the UK.
But, asked about the call for an inquiry, the No10 spokesman said: “It is always open to the House, select committees and the like to look into issues.
“There has long been a tradition of the charitable and voluntary sector working alongside state provision. I don’t think that's a new feature here in the UK.”