The Trussell Trust Food Bank Network has reported that over 1.18 million people received emergency food parcels from the Trust in the last year, the highest such figures to date. Presenting a detailed report into the state of the households that are using food banks, the Trust has laid bare the extent to which capitalism is harming working class families in Britain and how the Tory government is disregarding those most in need to further their own gains.
The report uncovered many shocking facts, but one that will come as no surprise is that some of the most ‘food insecure’ ( e.g. households who have skipped meals in the past 12 months) are those who have an unsteady income from month to month. Given the publicity last year over Uber’s treatment of its workers (after the GMB revealed some employees earning just £5.03 an hour), as well as the more recent struggles against Deliveroo employment practices, it is easy to see how ‘gig economy’ workers and those on zero-hour contracts face the sort of instability that often leads to chronic use of food banks.
The most vulnerable in our society, those who are disabled or have health conditions, formed 50% and 64% of the food bank user sample respectively. One-third of the food bank users identified by the Trust report have a mental health condition. In this respect, the government is clearly failing those who need its help the most. Theresa May can quickly set aside £1bn for a political deal without a second thought, yet can only pledge an additional £1 billion to the funding of mental health services after the Tories cut these vitally needed services by almost £600 million per year between 2010-15. The priorities of May’s ‘magic money tree’ are clearly set on clinging to power instead of feeding people who desperately need food to support their families!
The report concludes with a suggestion on how to reduce the use of food banks: ‘regular monitoring of food insecurity in the population to understand…how this problem might be addressed over time.’ However, empty promises will not help those who must rely on food banks to feed themselves. The only way to ensure that the most exploited and neglected sections of society get the food they are entitled to is with a complete overhaul of society. Mere ‘monitoring’ does nothing – action is needed.
The Tories have no concept of what it is like to struggle below the poverty level, yet they enforce these horrific levels of poverty and food insecurity upon the working class, making us pay for a crisis of their system. The fact that people in one of the most developed countries in the world need to use food banks shows that something must fundamentally change - that we need a revolution. We must kick out the Tories and establish a society that works for all, not just the 1%!