A study by Oxfam has recently revealed that reliance on food banks in the UK has roughly tripled, with over 500,000 people dependent on them.
This begs the question—why are so many more people unable to afford food? For whatever reason, the government is not taking this as seriously as it should. In my opinion, the fact that food banks exist in the first place is a huge issue—poverty should not be something which is present in a developed country like ours, as the government needs to be able to support those who cannot help themselves. Many people don’t really believe that poverty actually exists in the UK, arguing that it is something only poor people in third-world countries suffer with.
It is clear that since the introduction of George Osborne’s schemes, such as keeping benefit increases at 1 per cent regardless of inflation, the bedroom tax, and changes to council tax and disability benefits, there has been a correlation between the increase in number of people using food banks and the increase in cuts.
If someone’s source of income in the form of benefits decreases suddenly, and they have no other form of income to replace the loss with, then of course there will be problems. Many families are starting to struggle as a result of the government leaving them out in the cold. This single mother, seen talking to ITV, said it was ‘astounding’ that the government would not see that it is the benefit cuts which are the problem.
So, what is the next step the government needs to take to solve this issue? Providing more food banks certainly isn’t the answer, as the problem needs to be tackled directly. Instead of just presuming that people will be able to survive adequately on benefit cuts, the government needs to investigate in order to discover which benefits are not vital, but also which cuts would be detrimental to people’s lives.
After all, although the government believes that the cuts are necessary and are helping the country financially, in fact it probably makes little difference. As these people do not have the money to keep spending, nothing is being pumped back into the economy.
Many people as a result of poverty will become ill more easily due to a weakened immune system and lack of the correct vitamins, costing the government more money through the NHS. Crime could even see an increase if some people become desperate, creating higher costs in terms of both the police force and the judicial system.
Please, Mr Osborne and the government: reconsider and re-evaluate your decisions regarding benefit cuts, and stop this ridiculous reliance that people have on food banks. It is unacceptable that half a million people are struggling to feed themselves in a developed country in the 21st century.
After all, if we can’t rely on the government to provide us with help when we’re struggling to actually survive, what can we rely on it for?