Job advisers will be posted to food banks to help hard-pressed Brits get back on their feet, Iain Duncan Smith announced today. The move follows a trial in Manchester where two advisers are on hand to assist people forced to turn to emergency food handouts.
MPs heard the advisers are there to sort out problems like missed benefit payments and also help people find work.
‘We are already getting very strong feedback’
Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Duncan Smith added: “We are already getting very strong feedback. “If this works and if the other food banks are willing to encompass this and we think it works we think we would like to roll this out across the whole of the UK.”
Food banks provide emergency rations to people who have been referred by professionals. Usage of the services have soared in recent years, with more than a million food parcels handed out last year by the Trussell Trust – which runs nearly 450 food banks.
Government critics say that is a crisis sign of breadline Britain – but supporters say use is growing because there are now more food banks.
A Trussell Trust spokesman gave a cautious welcome to the idea of posting more Jobcentre staff at its centres, saying: “We need to look at the most helpful ways for local Jobcentres and foodbanks to work together.”
‘The grim reality’
But shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith accused Mr Duncan Smith of being “incompetent and callous”.
He said: “The revelation that the Government is considering placing DWP staff in food banks across the country highlights the grim reality that people depending on emergency food aid is increasingly a central part of Iain Duncan Smith’s vision for our social security system.”