The Guardian revealed in an exclusive report on Thursday that ministers in the government of Prime Minister Theresa May have commissioned a report on the role of government policies in encouraging more people to use food banks.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has tasked two senior officials with overseeing the study, the newspaper said, adding that the report, which is to cost £217,000, is supposed “to identify any areas of DWP policy or operational practice that may have contributed to a rise in demand for food bank services”.
The DWP has marked a draft of the proposal for the research as “Official - Sensitive” meaning it is still reluctant to acknowledge that government policies has had a role in forcing more British people into poverty, Presstv reported.
Many blame the conservative-led government’s cuts on social welfare programs for the increased use of food bank by the public. They say a decision to launch the universal credit, a system which replaces a range of benefits with one payment has driven up food bank use in Britain. Critics are also unhappy with cuts to disability payments, saying it has made those in need more vulnerable.
The government has consistently denied there is a proven link. However, the leaked DWP document shows it has begun to accept the impacts of the policies and how they have created more poverty in the UK.
“This is a problem of the government’s own making. If this research gives the government a chance to get off this self-imposed hook, then it’s a good thing,” said Labour MP Frank Field. The lawmaker wished people could stand the pressures of increased poverty until the government reaches a decision to scrap the universal credits.
The number of food banks in the UK has increased rapidly since the financial crisis. The Trussell Trust, an organization running some 400 of these food banks in the country reported a 13-percent increase in the use of its services in 2017-2018, saying some 666,000 people received a record 1.3 million food parcels in the period.