Oldham Foodbank – numbers needing emergency help grow

Today, figures from Oldham Foodbank have shown that 5,334 people received three days’ emergency food from the foodbank in 2014, compared to 4,992 in 2013.  Locally, 3,714  adults and 1,620 children have received three days’ emergency food and support from Oldham foodbank in the last 12 months.

Nationally, over 1,000,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in 2014-15, compared to 900,000 in 2013-14, this is more than in any previous year.

At the Oldham foodbank, the top three reasons for foodbank referral were Benefit delay (35%of all referrals),  benefit change (23%) and low income (18%).  Last year local people donated 45 tonnes of food to Oldham foodbank. Local schools, businesses and faith groups have provided vital support to the foodbank, enabling them to give three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis.

As well as providing emergency food, Oldham foodbank provides essentials like washing powder, nappies and hygiene products to families who are struggling, as well as signposting them to other services in the local area.

These figures are yet more evidence of the effect of Tory and Lib Dem policies causing misery for thousands of vulnerable people across Oldham, Saddleworth and the rest of the UK.

The JCP whistle-blower who came to me told me that the new sanctions regime, introduced by this Government, has created an inhumane system with targets for social security sanctions regardless of whether claimants had done anything wrong or not.
As the member of the DWP select committee who instigated the inquiry into sanctions, I have been appalled by the Government’s refusal to accept any of the evidence from organisations like the Trussell Trust, religious groups, and charities such as MIND, Gingerbread and the Child Poverty Action Group.
Even evidence from eminent academics from Oxford, York and Glasgow Universities have been ignored. But it was the lack of empathy shown by Tory ministers to the plight of individuals who had directly suffered from their sanctions regime, or indeed family members who had lost loved ones after they had been sanctioned, that has been most shocking.
The choice on 7th May is clear one.  We will balance the books in a fairer way, cutting the deficit every year. Labour stands for a fairer Oldham, a fairer Britain, for the many, not just the privileged few. We know we all do better when Britain is fairer.

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