Let them eat…..

Baroness Lister of Burtersett

‘THE FAMILIES WHO CANNOT AFFORD FOOD. Charities try to fill the gap as hungry turn to stealing’ was my local paper’s front page headline last week.  The Nottingham Post story continued: ‘Food banks are opening across Nottingham because the number of people who cannot afford to feed their families is increasing.  The next day I read in the Guardian that local authorities are planning to invest in food banks in the face of growing need and social security cuts.

Some will see the growing role played by charity-run food banks in feeding the hungry as a triumph of the Big Society in action.  But is it right that charities should be having to step in to plug the holes opening up in an increasingly frayed social security safety net?  And that local authorities should be turning to charities to fulfil their responsibilities?  Charities have an important role to play but most in the sector would argue that this role is to add to what the state provides rather than to substitute for it.  Charities can provide the icing but the state should provide the basic cake – or bread.  The example of widespread reliance on food banks in North America does not augur well.  The Guardian quotes a Canadian researcher who warns that they are stigmatising, unreliable and inefficient.

Things are only likely to get worse.  Social security cuts are only just starting to bite (and more are threatened).  The discretionary social fund, which provides the ultimate safety net in the social security system, is due to be replaced by local authority support but the money for this will not be ring-fenced.  And when universal credit is introduced, it will be paid monthly rather than fortnightly.  This is likely to mean more families running out of money and going hungry.  Food banks are not the answer; decent social security support and adequately paid jobs are.

23 comments for “Let them eat…..

  1. Lord Blagger
    27/08/2012 at 11:36 am

    But is it right that charities should be having to step in to plug the holes opening up in an increasingly frayed social security safety net? And that local authorities should be turning to charities to fulfil their responsibilities?


    So lets see. The public should be charitable, and if they can’t afford it, well we will send the boys round and take it.

    Lets face it, the simple reason for this is people like you.

    You have stolen, and its the only word for it, trillions from people and spent in, largely on wasteful things, less your not inconsiderable cut. [You cost us 2,700 pounds a day when you turn up]

    Now we have the legacy of that incompetence. The state has a debt of 7,000 bn when you include all the off balance sheet items. You know, the things like a state pension that people have paid for up front. That’s a debt and its been hidden off the books because there is not intent to pay it.

    Meanwhile, government spending is up in real terms. Where are the cuts? If there are cuts in one area there is a massive increase elsewhere. It’s not on unemployment either. You can work out the extra spending there by multiplying the increase in the unemployed by the amount the receive each week.

    The real reason is debts. Debts that won’t go away.

    When you consider that a median wage earner would have had a pension of 19,000 a year, but instead gets 5K, and that’s taxed, and CPI not RPI, and not fully joint life, and even worse gets paid 2 years later, plus he or she has to work and contribute another 2 years, its clear that you are the people ripping people off.

    That 26K a year has had 47,000 pounds taken off them, to pay for people like you.

  2. maude elwes
    27/08/2012 at 1:15 pm

    @Baroness Lister:

    And why is this happening here in the UK? this country that once had full employment, a strong NHS and a full welfare programme which was a safety net against starvation?

    When you answer those questions with complete honesty and not try to cover it with insane ideology, you may, just may, be able to do something about it.

    In the meantime, why are we sending aid to countries that have nothing whatsoever to do with the tax paying people of this country? Do you know. And now we are being asked to have compassion for those who appear to face a continual legacy of famine, no matter how much is poured into the coffers of those States. Yet, our own are left to starve because government has sold a tale of welfare fraud being the cause of this collapse of rampant Capitalism.

    However, you tell us it is going to get worse. See how it feels when it becomes people you know, thrown on the streets homeless, with their children crying as they cannot feel them. And then of course the state will step in to take them into so called care.

    I cannot see how those responsible in that great Palace of Westminster can sleep at night.


    And here we see how the rich get richer and the poor die as they are robbed by those who refuse to pay their taxes.


    And what is New Labour with it’s fancy creeps hiding in the wings with the millions they made out of us all, going to do for the people it lied to and cheated? Sit back and watch the fat Tory gits take the bloody lot and buy up their islands in Greece?

  3. Twm
    27/08/2012 at 5:26 pm

    I would be disinclined to trust the local authority with anything like that at all.
    All they are good at is collecting huge car parking fees from all and sundry,

    discretionary social fund,
    Even this fund has its limits since if you have claimed your maximum from the social fund, you may have no more, and it has to be repaid out of future ‘benefit’ payments.

    The best thing is to do something to earn some cash!

  4. ladytizzy
    27/08/2012 at 10:46 pm

    The UK food banks’ brief is to organise, collect, store, and distribute non-perishable food. The food is donated by shoppers (and other non-public funded sources) and given to those who have vouchers originating (mainly) from social services as an emergency and temporary measure.

    The existing funding model is for councils to give cash payments to those who would qualify and is due to be cut in April 2013. The first question(s): given so many food banks are already in demand have councils already stopped payments; if so, where is that money now? If money is being invested to build ‘capacity’ for food banks as claimed by, eg, Lambeth council, have direct payments already been stopped?

    Further, am I correct to believe that such payments are called Crisis Loans, and that they are:
    a) means tested,
    b) an interest-free loan, and
    c) capped to three loans per annum, each covering two weeks?

    Regardless, the current value of payments is the equivalent of, say, a tin of beans per day for which the recipient can then choose to buy a tin of beans, or a yoghurt and apple, or save up for a pack of cigarettes or a wind chime, whatever; food banks hand out a tin of beans.

    As with the current system, food banks do not address the problem of value. Whether the beans are destined for one’s own dinner table or someone else’s, the price is the same. It is offensive to me that the cash differential will end up as profits for supermarkets. Of course, it is also true that the amount of cash currently given does not allow for bulk purchase that would take advantage of discounts or special offers.

    The indicators suggest that charities, or other bodies, should be providing not just the network but the power to purchase. Or, how about councils jack up the rates for supermarkets and use the extra to do it themselves, alongside compulsory purchase of land grab, reallocated for allotments?

    The Big Society is not just about reallocating contracts to charities.

  5. MilesJSD
    28/08/2012 at 10:50 am

    I forewarned about our growing need
    to begin our viewing of any Disaster, Conflict, Issue, Problem, Topic
    and even of an apparently innocent and trouble-free-looking tinier text,

    by including an Overview of the influencing Overarching (Overshadowing) Greater-Contexts
    (e.g. hereto, that The Human Race is rapidly extincting Earth’s Bio-Lifesupports
    overdrawing bio-mineral content from Soils, and not only not replacing them (calcium, copper, molybdenum, manganese, zinc, and so on)
    but being unable to replace them
    [NB except on a scale that would support only the bare minimum human population necessary for the ultimate survival of a ‘Core Human Race’,
    both on this Earth and on the Next
    (Mars, Europa, ‘Earth II’, whatever);
    and increasingly-necessarily ‘thrival’, probably even ‘guaranteed-luxurious-comfort’, of this super-rich, super-equipped, super-healthily select ‘Core-Human-Race’ ? ));

    and last week I strongly suggested also including initial snapshots of any ‘underlurking’ sub-sub-problems (qua ‘spanners-in-the-works’ at grass-roots levels
    e.g. currently the already trebled fruit and vegetable prices is forecast (calculated) to have to be pushed up even further, much further
    (due to unexpected floods in some agricultural places, and unexpected droughts in others)

    added to which, in the Workplace, might have to be ‘unexpected failures of machineries, and of human-sub-workforces –

    not to mention in the much bigger Lifeplace,
    costly street-marchings and demonstrations, even possible civil bloodshedding ?].

    Could you see Rationing (of Food in this case) to be a good if not best way forward ?

    and, ultimately if not in this decade, Egalitarianly-indexed Income-rationing ?

    to be immediately-workable and long-term sustain-worthy ?

  6. Senex
    28/08/2012 at 7:10 pm

    Pardon my French but Lord Blagger “Shut you cake hole!” How and where did this rude expression first arise? Some say it was service slang first used during WW2 but why use the word ‘cake’.

    The editorial inference is perhaps the answer; it was already established within English culture as a result of the bile that was directed at the Austrian Marie Antoinette during and before her trial in 1793.

    The Kingdom of France was near bankruptcy, the relationship between the people and nobility when at odds with each is brutal and murderous. The King has ceded some powers to the French ‘Parliament’ but it has no upper house in the manner of the English. Soon it will give primacy to a ‘Council of Ancients’ as its Senate.

    In England the ‘Caroline Era’ has come to a close after a bloody Civil War. The war is caused by a cultural expectation that the nobility in the HoL will hold the King to account however its nobility is in the pocket of the King.

    Kings’ feel they should have the absolutism and power of the French Monarchy. In 1689 Parliaments investment in the Monarchy sees the King returned but its absolutist powers are given over to Parliament.

    The French revolution takes place but English political stability is assured by having both the nobility and the people represented in Parliament with the HoL holding the executive to account in a way the French people cannot.

    Roll forward to 2012: Lord Blagger wants the HoL abolished. He desires his House of Commons to have the absolutism of the French Kings taking every opportunity to denounce the House of Lords. How will a bankrupt executive feed the people? Lord Blagger says “Let them eat brioche!”

    Ref: Marie Antoinette Never Said “Let Them Eat Cake”: Bonus Factoids
    France 1700-1715: 3.2.1 The Kings Councils

    • Lord Blagger
      29/08/2012 at 10:56 am

      Roll forward to 2012: Lord Blagger wants the HoL abolished. He desires his House of Commons to have the absolutism of the French Kings taking every opportunity to denounce the House of Lords. How will a bankrupt executive feed the people? Lord Blagger says “Let them eat brioche!”


      Since when have I said that the commons should assume absolute power?

      I’ve said this.

      1. Abolish the Lords. 150 million a year saved.

      2. You nominate an MP, any MP, as your proxy. Cost 20 million on top of the current cost of 100 million for voter registration.

      Net cost, 130 million a year saved.

      3. When it comes to finally passing of bills, its proxy votes that count.

      4. You get 1 free change of proxy a year. Just the same as now, because you have to register each year.

      So if you are a voter who wants a Tory policy set, but live in Scotland you get a say. Same as any other person, MP or Peer included.

      So before you go making up things that haven’t been said, read what other people write rather than resorting to fantasy or outright porkies.

  7. Sharon
    29/08/2012 at 12:29 am

    Food banks can not pay my utility bills that are spiraling out of control. It takes up more than half of my income and come winter it will be another 3 or 4 months in the dark and the cold. I’m on ESA and today I receive a letter from the council to tell me that I am going to have to pay £11.45 per week towards my rent, out of the blue! That’s on top of the £10 I already have to pay per month because the council are so hopeless at working out your benefit and left me owing last year, between ATOS and their WCA’s. What a useless system. What a useless government. It’s not the original blog writer who’s to blame though. She’s just trying to bring this issue to attention and that’s a good thing but this whole situation is getting out of hand and it’s destroying everyone’s morale and sense of well being and leaves you with a feeling of what’s the point in it all.

    • maude elwes
      29/08/2012 at 12:37 pm

      I read this in the Guardian yesterday. It tells it as it is. Government, under the direction of one Freddie Curzon, have sold our NHS to the yanks, as I already suspected and warned of, and yes, it begun under Thatcher was exacerbated by Blair and this heir to Blair has finished it off.

      They stupidly believe because they have private health insurance they will be covered and get a better service than they had before. The Harley Street cover they feel they, not us, deserve.

      Read all about it New Labour. You deserve what you will get under this idiots choice.


      And now the plan is to privatise social housing, by selling off the homes of those who, as yet, do not live in the dangerous slums they created. This, along with anything else their fat clammy hands on and can grab before they take off to the islands in the Caribbean and their off shore buckets of cash under their flabby arms.

      • Lord Blagger
        29/08/2012 at 4:31 pm

        No wonder Bob Crowe (130K a year plus) is worried. His 1 million pound council property might be sold from under his feet and he will have to pay a market rent.

        What will the comrades do with out their subsidised housing, ….

        • maude elwes
          29/08/2012 at 6:58 pm

          @Lord Blagger:

          And here are a few more.


          These once lived in social housing and yet, want to deny it for those who are in the same position they were once surrounded by and saved from.

          It is a money making concern for the wealthy developers this, we are going to give you planning to build social housing. What a lot of propaganda that is.

          Here is what it will turn into if the creeps who deny their background, like Osbourne, get their way. More no go areas, people hiding in their flats for fear of murder.

          Why do you feel our citizens should have no choice but this? American ghetto’s brought to this country condemned decent people who have to work for peanuts, because you set it up that way, and can only aspire to living in hovels like this? Yet you want more of the same.


          Mixed community’s helped to get rid of this horror. However, you want to add to it, and make the British live akin to the Sykes character in Twist. Then you expect, out of that, will come kids fit for a University. You are as mad as the lefty nut cases who see progress in removing the one step out, the Grammar school.

          And when that doesn’t work, reduce the level of education to the ridiculous so everyone can pass. That will give them and us all a leg up.


          People who live in conditions not fit for animals will become worse than any creature you can name.


          This is not acceptable. Not on any level.

          • Lord Blagger
            30/08/2012 at 2:41 pm

            Mixed community’s helped to get rid of this horror.


            So since the middle class have been cleansed out of Chelsea, and its only those on benefits and the super rich, can I ask you for a large donation for my mixed communities project?

            It’s all about bringing the middle class back in to Chelsea. You donate (well if you don’t pay up, we use violence) to me living in Chelsea.

            Where do I go to get the money off you?

            I’m not mad. I want people to have the good things in life. They should decide what they are, and they should spend their money getting those things.

            Instead people like the Lords dictate to them what to do. They use violence or its threat to get the cash out of them.

            Not that they get the cash back. After all, with all those debts to pay (not on the books), the money isn’t going to come back is it?

            You need to realise, that its government that is taking 50% of people’s money. It’s government that means people are too poor to do these things. It’s not me.

            So what should happen to those poor people you’re so fond of who were on benefits of 170,000 pounds a year plus in Chelsea who are being cleansed? After all there is a cap on how much they can take off other people.

  8. Lord Blagger
    29/08/2012 at 10:59 am

    Direct result of government fraud. They left off all the debts out of the accounts. They took the money people paid in to create those debts and spent it. Now the kitty is bare. More than bare in fact. 7,000 bn is missing.

    So they are going to hit you. They are going to hit me. Just to keep their Ponzi going.

    When you hand out 170,000 plus a year, tax free to people on benefits, there is a cost that is incurred.

    You’re finding out what that cost means in practice.

    Just like there is a cost of 2,700 a day per peer. You’re paying the cost of that.


  9. Dave H
    30/08/2012 at 3:38 pm

    I would argue that it’s the wrong way around, although once again it’s a case of getting there from here.

    The reason the state safety net is failing is because it’s overloaded. It should not be necessary to take money from taxpayers, waste a (fairly large) bit on admin overheads and then give it back to taxpayers as benefits. Far better to cut out the middleman and let them keep it. The safety net we have now is too big and too hard to get out of, and that’s a big part of the problem.

    As for charities, this is the preferable way of providing aid to those in need rather than doing it via taxes. That way, we have more money in our pockets and we can choose to donate to the charity of our choice rather than have the money forcibly removed by the government and distributed to their current favourites, often in exchange for soundbites that support government policy. Government can support us in this by providing tax relief on donations, because they are spending the money directly in accordance with our wishes. This goes for overseas aid too – if people wish to contribute to the Indian space programme, let them do it directly and via our taxes.

    Adequate proper jobs are important, and this is part of the problem of getting there from here, because without employment, people are unable to contribute. If you want to get creative, how about a tax on the offshoring of jobs? It comes down to simple economics for companies that they’ll do what’s cheapest, so make it cheaper for them to bring the jobs back to the UK. Removing some of the red tape might help here, too.

    • maude elwes
      31/08/2012 at 2:00 pm

      This is what is happening to the middle classes. And the loss trickles down to the poverty stricken.


      China is now feeling the pinch.

      • Lord Blagger
        31/08/2012 at 7:37 pm

        Think about China.

        How do you get that sort of growth without debts? Lots of borrowing.

        The problem with debt is when you don’t have assets to back them up. Normally, you would be bust quickly, and that curtails the problems.

        However, run a fraudulent set of books, and stick your head up your backside, like governments, and its a disaster.

  10. Lord Blagger
    30/08/2012 at 6:59 pm

    The problem Dave, is that there is a huge hidden debt.

    They have taken, and given it away. I re-iterate that they were giving people 170K a year tax free (no disabilities) until recently. That went on for years.

    That is where your pension money went, and now its due they can’t pay it. So they are going to default. They have already taken 47K off a median wage earner.

    Off shoring? All they will do is shut down, and create a firm off shore. You can’t stop that in the EU because its one of the principles of the EU. You have freedom of movement of people AND CAPITAL.

    The simple economics is 7,000 bn of debt, on income of 570 bn. 13 times geared. RBS was only on 10-11 when it went bust and it didn’t have the spending commitments.

    So red tape – great idea – still won’t swing it. Cut out the middleman? Never because it has to keep the Ponzi going and that means the cash coming in.

  11. Senex
    02/09/2012 at 5:08 pm

    You have much to say Lord Blagger, on what amounts to fraud and economic incompetence by successive governments. Remember the HoL you want rid of so badly once held governments to account for the budgets they set. Now everything revolves around the absolutist powers of your ‘King’.

    The HoL is full of paper Barons, letters patent amount to nothing more. How many billions do members of the house directly contribute to the supply side? Yes they pay their taxes but so miniscule are they that they could never legitimately hold the executive to account for how it spends them. They are simply the appointed courtiers of the ‘King’.

    The real Barons are running around loose outside of the political process doing what they please so long as it happens within the law and not being held to account for how they use their freedoms. They have no say in how their hard earned taxes are spent by governments.

    If these Barons had representation in an indirectly elected HoL do you think they would suffer dodgy accounting practices, the ones you refer to? Would they want a say in how Budgets were set after all its their taxes that would be needed to maintain a salaried ‘King’.

    Then there is the matter of pension fraud.

    How can MPs and Ministers pay National Insurance? They are neither employee or employer they simply do their salaried duty? As a house they have worked collectively to define employment status and their principle acolyte now shelters in Mr Speaker’s office cringing at the betrayal she has imposed on her fellows. They are breaking the law by paying National Insurance. They are breaking the law by receiving a state pension. They are breaking the law by receiving a Parliamentary pension. They live in an unworldly bubble that no prick can burst.

    Far from getting rid of the HoL we should be enabling it making its nobility relevant once again in society with real authority and the legitimacy to challenge the executive in ways it cannot now do.

    • Lord Blagger
      03/09/2012 at 11:21 am

      And since the Lords is packed with failed MPs and political cronies, what do you expect?

      They can still ask questions about why the true debt isn’t reported, and they don’t.

      If these Barons had representation in an indirectly elected HoL do you think they would suffer dodgy accounting practices, the ones you refer to?

      Substitute Baron for Joe public.

      Would he or she suffer MPs if they received a bill for 230,000 pounds run up by false accounting?

      How can MPs and Ministers pay National Insurance? They are neither employee or employer they simply do their salaried duty?

      They are. HMRC is going after them, at last, for claiming for tax advice on expenses. They are fighting to keep that perk. Expect legistlation on the matter preserving it.

      Just as MPs and Peers have exempted themselves from money laundering regulations imposed on others. Why would they need that?

      hey live in an unworldly bubble that no prick can burst.

      Well someone had a go at Timms. I suspect when it comes out so people understand that they have been robbed and defrauded of their retirement, that there are enough nutters out there they will do the same.

      To quantify it, if a median wage earner had put their NI into the FTSE, they would have had an RPI, joint life, from 65 years, pension of 19K.

      Instead they get 5K, from 67, linked to CPI.

      The increase in retirement age costs them 2 years of payouts, plus another 2 years of NI, 47K in total. CPI instead of RPI costs them another 25% off the 5K a year. Another 35K stolen.

      What’s even more frightening, is that even with the cuts to the payout government debts come to 7 trillion, on income of 0.57 trillion. 12-13 times geared. That’s worse that RBS when it went bust. And RBS doesn’t have to spend on the NHS, welfare, Peers, …

    • maude elwes
      03/09/2012 at 2:15 pm


      But, why did they allow the ‘king’ to take all that power unto himself? What was in their mind when they passed such power from self to a-nother? Did they really believe they would not fall under the extraordinary secrecy and greed they see they have brought about?

      No, you have to place blame where blame belongs and that is with those who were foolish enough to fall for a line. Politics is all based on the premise that the side you do not belong to, is out to thwart your cause. No matter what that cause may be.

      Look at how an African, Anglican, great man of Nobel peace fame, has had to take a step to raise the issue of Blair being seen throughout the planet as an acceptable ex leader to speak on a stage with him. Desmond Tutu is remarkable and understands exactly what he is doing. At last a man with a moral bent is willing to speak for us all.

      If the world refused to share a stage with such men, as Tutu did, then Blair’s comeuppance would be swift and accountability would be seen to be done, by being played out in the Hague, as we saw at Nuremberg.


      As well, we then read the Libyan son of Gaddafi, Saif, is calling on the same Blair salesman of the British people, to save him from his death. Which, from my point of view, usually means, get me out of this mire, or, I will have you in it with me.


      The noose is closing around the neck of those who led us into an illegal war. Our soldiers taking the brunt. And, Balls, who defended the decision, must look to his back, as the Ides of March are upon him also.

  12. Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    05/09/2012 at 2:52 pm

    Just a response to some of the many points made before I disappear for my holiday.

    Maude Elwes: you ask why is his happening in the UK and why are we sending aid to other countries when people are in need here. To answer the first question properly needs more space than I can give it here. But I would argue the immediate causes are the impact of the recession combined with a failure of the social security system to provide adequate protection [cf Sharon’s post]and as I said things are going to get worse as the cuts bite.
    ladytizzy: local authorities don’t currently make cash payments in such circumstances or pay out crisis loans. These are part of the social fund, which is at present part of the national social security system, acting as the ultimate safety net in it. But the money currently paid out through this part of the social fund, together with community care grants, is being tranferred to local authorities in April 2013 and local authorities will be given total discretion as to how they spend this money.
    milesjsd: I don’t think rationing is the answer. The problem isn’t enough food to go round but that some people don’t have enough money to buy the food they need.
    Dave H: can’t agree that charity preferable to taxation. One reason why we developed a tax-funded welfare state was that it became clear you can’t rely on charities to ensure that needs are met. More popular groups might do ok; but less popular groups almost certainly wouldn’t. Charities can’t ensure the fair distribution of resources and can’t provide the kind of security and guarantees that a state social security system can. But as I said in my original post, charities have an important role to play in providing additional support.

    • Lord Blagger
      06/09/2012 at 9:44 am

      But you are still in cuckoo land.

      You have funded your welfare state out of people’s pensions. ie. You’ve effective raided their pension funds. To cover it up you have hidden all pension liabilities off the books.

      Now those liabilities are due, you are defaulting.

      That is the action of a fraudster.

      Bernie Madoff, Asil Nadir and Robert Maxwell all did the same and were jailed. Are you going to take responsibility for doing the same?

      There is no state guarantee. The state earns nothing, it just takes.

      You have run up 7,000 bn of debts, on income (tax) of 570 bn. That’s without welfare, NHS, schools, defence police, ….

      More than 12 times geared with massive spending requirements. That’s why the debts are hidden. It would be obvious you’ve bankrupted government if published.

      For you to carry on taking money whilst bankrupt for pensions you can never provide is fraud.

  13. Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    Baroness Lister of Burtersett
    05/09/2012 at 6:53 pm

    PS I meant also briefly to respond to Maude Elwes’ point about overseas aid. I certainly don’t believe that the aid budget is somehow responsible for the inadequate support for people in poverty in this country. Despite our economic difficulties, we are a rich country and can afford to help those in poverty in the global South as well as in our own country.

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