Archives for posts with tag: Trussell Trust


Every time I see a headline like, ‘Government is failing disabled people’ or as in the Guardian, 1 April 2017, ‘This benefit cut will make youngsters homeless. It’s another Tory failure’, I am immediately stuck by an overwhelming sense of disbelief that either the media simply doesn’t get it, which is unlikely, or this is wilful perception management to keep us wrong footed or to deliberately deceive us.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the Tories are entirely comfortable with their policies and the effects they have and, indeed, lie through their teeth and spin endless nonsense despite overwhelming evidence of the harm their policies cause.

Whether it’s making work pay, the bedroom tax, sanctions, multiple attacks on disabled people, racist vans, bullshit jobs for bullshit pay, ending housing benefit for young people, no more top down reorganisation of our NHS, using European workers as bargaining chips, the junior doctors debacle, ending access to legal aid, denying the escalating numbers of suicides, the housing crisis, mass deportations, privatisation of the state, selling off state assets at knock down prices, cuts, caps, raising VAT, abandoning care for the elderly and raising pension age, tax cuts for the rich, austerity for the poor (and that is just the short list), the Tories are entirely comfortable with it all, their policies are working exactly as intended. They are not failing, they are succeeding.

Anyone who says they are failing, especially journalists, is misinformed (as much of the public is), an idiot or fully complicit in this mass deception.

This is not about cognitive dissonance, ‘the mental stress (discomfort) experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values’, this is perception management on a grand scale.

How many deaths would it take to give any reasonable organisation cause to examine its policies or even just acknowledge that there might be a problem? Since 2010, tens of thousands of people have died or committed suicide and the government is not only not interested but denies there is even a problem. Damian Green took over from Iain Duncan Smith in July 2016 and has not only continued with the punitive regime put in place by Smith, but has escalated the attacks on poor and vulnerable people and claims the benefits cap, ‘costing almost 90,000 of Britain’s poorest families more than £2,000 a year, is a “real success”.

And he’s right. It is a massive Tory success. Poverty is rising and persistent poverty for children has consistently risen since 2010 and food bank usage under the Tories has gone through the roof, leading Chris Mould to state that the DWP regards people driven to food banks as “collateral damage”. Iain Duncan Smith, far from doing anything about the situation, accused the Trussell Trust of scare mongering and he and Lord Freud have consistently refused to meet with the Trussell Trust.

Why would they meet with the Trussell Trust? The system was designed by Smith and Freud, and it is doing exactly as intended, to penalise and hound people to death. Dr David Webster, writing on the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies web site, called Benefit Sanctions, ‘Britain’s secret penal system’, which imposes more and harsher fines than the entire British court system.

What does it take to call a spade a spade?

To even begin to understand the Tories we have to see them as they see themselves and report accordingly, as a towering success. Their policies are not ill informed or hastily come by, they are well planned and enormous amounts of time have been spent formulating them. The Welfare Reform Act 2012, introduced by Iain Duncan Smith and Lord Freud, and the unfolding misery it has given rise to, was not written in a day, or hastily, it was long in the making almost certainly predating the 2010 general election. It’s 350 sections and 187 pages were meticulously written and is a huge success story for the Tories.

Reporting any of this as failing or failure, is to entirely misreport the reality of Tory success. They are not failing disabled people or young people or anyone else, they are successfully implementing policies which they fully intended would cause pain and suffering on the grand scale we see to this day.

Alex Brooker on the Last Leg rightly called Tory disability cuts, “disabled genocide” and if you have a terminal illness but are expected to live longer than six months you do not qualify for extra support. So yes in real terms the government is failing ordinary people, but they are doing so wilfully and knowingly and mocking us in the process and consider their policies entirely successful.

The mainstream media headlines should reflect the reality of the situation, and hit hard and true. That they do not is to entirely fail to understand what is going on or to wilfully mislead.

Given the cost in lives for their failure to present the facts and the reality of the situation, then they are culpable in this unfolding catastrophe in the lives of millions of people in Britain today. Too much of the corporate media is engaged in perception management for self serving reasons and given the proliferation (thankfully) of independent media, bloggers and writers, it falls to us, ordinary people, to hold them to account and to call a spade a spade. The Tories have blood on their hands and it bothers them not one jot.

KOG. 02 April 2017



The Independent reports that five families are being made homeless every hour in the UK. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports that ‘almost 13 million people are living in poverty in the UK’, with over half of those in families with at least one adult working. And the BBC, amongst others, reports that, ‘More than 16 million people in the UK have savings of less than £100’.

These are dreadful statistics that highlight the terrible suffering of people in Britain today as a matter of policy. This is not a failure of government, it is deliberate policy, an economic war of attrition being waged against the poorest and most vulnerable people in society who are not just being abandoned, but are being targeted and penalised for absolutely no good reason.

I am sick to death of reading that some of those being attacked are called wasters and losers, alcoholics and drug addicts, fraudsters and cheats. As if such ‘character defects’ are exclusive to the poor. Who in hell created this mess, who bombed the global economy, who has trillions of dollars stashed away in tax havens exploiting all the benefits of society and contributing nothing? The poor?

Anyone who whinges about the poor on benefits needs to take a long hard look at the world and themselves and maybe begin to wonder, who makes these stories up, who is aiming the arrows of their hatred at the most deprived and yet cover up and hide the most depraved, like ex-prime minister David Cameron, George Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey, Priti Patel, Philip Green, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and the entire financial ‘free’ markets? This is orchestrated hatred which is morally and socially bankrupt.

Richard Branson lives in a tax haven. Yeah, he really is one of the good guys! He’s one of the people stealing our NHS from us. Richard Branson is a carpet bagger of the worst kind, looting and plundering what we have paid for.

Meanwhile, every single day, there is an unsung army of ordinary people giving of themselves and the little they have to succour and support others. There is a 91 year old man called Morrie Boogart, a cancer sufferer who lives in a hospice, yet who found purpose in knitting over 8,000 hats over the last 15 years for homeless people which are delivered to shelters throughout the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area in the USA.

This Thursday, Charlotte Hughes will be at the Jobcentre in Ashton-under-Lyne, as she has been for two and half years supporting those hounded by the DWP in one of Britain’s most deprived areas. Charlotte and friends, whose names I do not even know nor how many, are feeding, supporting, offering advice and a kind word, to those who are victims in one of the DWP’s test areas, where the DWP practice their cruelty first before rolling it out across the country. I name her only because I know her and have the utmost respect for her, yet she is suffering for what she is doing, it is tough and demanding and at times downright dispiriting.

Under the shadow of oppression there are millions helping out, volunteering, giving of their time gladly, against the odds.

People know of the Trussell Trust, but they are only one part of the food banks that now exist across the UK, keeping people alive just because they care.

There are street kitchens, cafes and restaurants across the UK feeding the elderly and homeless, not just at Christmas, but every day.

It is impossible to even begin to name all that goes on every day out of kindness and care by ordinary people giving their time and energy to support others. It is impossible to even guess how many lives are saved daily who are abandoned and ignored by government.

This is barely even news, whatever scarce mention is made in the news of those who care is the merest tip of an enormous tsunami of care happening every day, saving lives, offering support and advice, giving a helping hand, lifting up and sustaining life.

If there is any place for cynicism, it is not here, if there is reason to abandon hope, it is not for want of the efforts of those trying to offer it. Yes, we do lose people and each one hurts and at times the tears and sorrow are overwhelming, but that is not the time to give up, even if we must pause for breath and catch up with our own needs, because we forgot to do that for a time.

But that is not what takes courage. What takes courage in a time of need is asking for help. It says much about us that we manage, and we manage and we manage, until we have nothing left, but that is not the time to die, that is the time to courageously ask for help. Asking for help is not weakness and nor is it failure, that is the time to surrender and say one of the toughest words to say, ‘help’: to a friend or neighbour, a doctor or care worker, someone who can connect us to the care we need. It is not that no one cares, they just might not know we need it, and may be stricken if we die when they might otherwise have offered a helping hand had they but known.

It may feel easier to die and cease to be a burden, but caring does not recognise any of us as a burden. I speak from personal experience, it is ok to need help, but it takes courage to seek it and ask for it. It is ok to be in need.

KOG. 30 January 2017


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,483

Monday 04 July 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

There has been a great deal of media coverage of the alleged rise of right wing extremism, and certainly Nigel Farage was triumphant about nationalism. “We have done it without a bullet being fired,” he trumpeted, a heinous insult to the memory and family of Jo Cox.

Britain is certainly in turmoil, not least from 6 years of imposed austerity and relentless fear mongering and manufactured division from politicians and the media alike and if people are angry, they have good reason to be with the most divisive, right wing, god awful government in our history.

If we look beyond the news and all the lies and spin, however, something very different is going on. The latest news from the Trussell Trust is that they now have a network of 424 foodbanks and in 2015/16 they saw a  2% increase in foodbank use, handing out 1,109,309 three-day emergency packages to people living below the bread line. What that means in real terms is that whilst those suffering under your brutal austerity are still on the increase, so too are the number of people who are donating more food than ever for those in need.

Of course this is not news, it doesn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor as the relentless dismal stories so beloved of the main stream media who profit from doom and gloom and yet do nothing about it.

The coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn has gained much media attention and much of the reporting has suggested that he is an unelectable throwback to old fashioned socialism by those with a vested interest in pursuing a right wing political agenda. Corbyn is responsible for an unprecedented rise in support for socialism and social democracy, which had taken a beating from Margaret Thatcher onwards such that it looked as though socialism and social democracy were all but dead. Corbyn has proved that socialism is very much alive and well and what he represents is the worst nightmare of pretentious neoliberal apologists of all political persuasions.

The more Corbyn is opposed the more people come out to support him, as seen this weekend with thousands attending rallies across the nation. That’s real time feet on the streets in support of social democracy and people have had enough of the sneering disdain which self serving politicians have for the people. We are certainly a nation in turmoil, but it is a necessary turmoil and I hope all you right wing neoliberals are quaking in your boots, because you damned well should be.

Latest Stats


A letter a day to number 10. No 1,439

Friday 20 May 2016.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I was very impressed at this little nugget that you threw into the Queen’s speech for the State Opening of Parliament, “… and to move to a higher wage and lower welfare economy where work is rewarded.”

It’s amazing, in all the commentary that has followed the Queen’s speech, not a word has been mentioned about pay being redefined by your government as a reward for labour, yet it is possibly the most egregious patronising insult contained in the speech.

Pay was once an entitlement in exchange for labour, but, of course, that’s something you have worked assiduously to bring to an end. The fundamental right to expect a decent rate of pay in exchange for the expenditure of our labour no longer applies in Tory Britain, that is what Workfare has stolen from workers. You have rewritten work as a state duty under threat of punitive sanctions, in which pay has been eradicated and is now merely a reward, if we’re lucky.

I don’t care how many times I have to say it, forced labour is a crime under the Human Rights Act! Yet under the DWP’s brutal and punitive regime this is now routine. The reward being that if you meekly obey you will get to keep the pittance reward of so called ‘benefits’. Even our pensions are called benefits, disregarding that they are an entitlement we have contributed towards all our working lives.

How you’ve stealthily slid us back into feudalism!

Priti Patel is promoting Brexit on the basis of halving the ‘burdens’ of the EU social and employment legislation, which exist to protect workers rights. Such inconveniences you refer to as ‘red tape’, which prevents businesses from being even more profitable at the expense of workers.

Your government is behaving like feudal overlords, patronising us as vassals of the state and rewarding us with a token keepsake if we’ve performed well whilst stealing all that we have so arduously laboured for. Small wonder the Trussell Trust reports that the number of working people needing emergency food parcels from food banks is increasing, citing  low wages, insecure work, high living costs and problems accessing working benefits. Weaponising money to use as a bargaining chip over people’s lives and calling it a reward is a crime against life.

Who let the cats out? Priti Patel suggests we could lose half our EU work rights after #Brexit

Foodbank use remains at record high

25_october_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,240

Sunday 25 October 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

The only test for any government policy is its impact on the ground in the real world, not some cooked up nonsense spun from a government office or department and especially not a PR department.

The Trussell Trust latest figures reveal that 1,084,604 people were given food parcels in 2014/15, 687,607 to adults and 396,997 to children. This is a catastrophic rise from the 61,468 handed out in 2010/11, your first year in coalition.

The richest people have seen their wealth double since the banking crisis. Government policy attacks the poor whilst the richest are rewarded, that is the reality of austerity in Britain. George Osborne announced in his budget that families could pass an increase to £1 million on to their children free of inheritance tax. He lowered corporation tax from 28% to 20% over the period of the coalition government, but has lowered it further to 18%. However, in proposing a then freeze on Tax Credits he remarked, ‘So those who oppose any savings to Tax Credits will have to explain how on earth they propose to eliminate the deficit’. He thus made it clear that eliminating the deficit is the sole responsibility of the poor. The rich are not only protected, they are rewarded whilst the poorer you are the more you are penalised and let’s not forget where the deficit came from, the banks who will directly benefit from the lowered corporation tax. Britain’s corporation tax is the lowest in the G20 and we’re also giving businesses £93 billion a year in subsidies, that’s a welfare gift of more than £3,500 from each UK household.

The magnitude of the injustices being heaped on the poor are utterly staggering. You are literally crushing the life out of the poor, knowingly, wilfully and with malice aforethought. There is no justice in it, no hint of ‘fairness’, a word Osborne is fond of using, and no ‘security’, his new catchword applied to everything except the poor other than in proposing more cuts in tax credits next year to pay for ‘national security’.

This is the relentless wholesale destruction of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain and is nothing more than cold blooded, callous, brutality. Your government has blood on its hands and you couldn’t care less and Tory MPs openly mock the poor in parliament. Britain now ranks amongst the worlds brutal dictatorships.

04_august_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,168

Tuesday 04 August 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

When the Bank of England can create £375 billion of new money, that’s nearly £6,000 for every man, woman and child in the UK, and give it to the banks and financial markets entirely free of charge, your government cannot possibly claim to be the party for ‘hard working people’ or ‘for people who want to get on’. The 5% of the wealthiest people who own 40% of the stock market benefited from such an enormous hand out to the tune of £128,000 per household.

I am not sure in what way betting on the stock markets could be called hard working bearing in mind these are the people who, when the going gets tough, they get going, running for the hills with as much loot as they can plunder from the stock markets and the small matter of crashing the stock markets into the bargain seems to bother them not at all. Of course when such a thing happens, businesses crash along with jobs, people starve and yet it is starved labour which eventually brings recovery, rebuilding the real economy and putting life back into it for the hoarders of wealth to begin taking punts once more.

Positive Money (PM) is a non partisan organisation calling for banking reform and the establishment of a fairer and more socially just, democratic, money system that works for the nation as a whole and not just for the banks and financial markets and the wealthy few.

Had that £375 billion been invested in the real economy, building schools, hospitals, housing, infrastructure, the NHS, creating jobs and circulating money, PM have calculated every £1 of that £375 billion would have grown the economy by £2.80. Instead, via the so called trickle down effect, every £1 of that money grew the real economy by just 8 pence.

Back in the real world your government scrapped plans to build 715 new schools and also, crucially, 1000 flood defence projects. You may remember the floods in the winter of 2013/2014 which devastated thousands of homes and lives and your promise that aid money would be no object. Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, who chaired the select committee that scrutinises the department for environment, food and rural affairs said of the cuts to flood defences that it could be a “classic example” of a false economy. She certainly wasn’t wrong, eh?

Had that £375 billion been invested in the real economy it would have yielded over £1 trillion which would only have kept on growing and Britain would have recovered from the criminal behaviour of the banks, instead we have Osbornomics and permanent austerity, the number of Trussell Trust food banks alone having increased from 56 in 2010 to 445 in 2014/15 with two new food banks opening every week in your ever escalating, and entirely ideological, war on the poor.

17_june_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,120

Wednesday 17 June 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

UK wide, we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis the like of which I have not witnessed before nor ever expected to, which, apparently coincidentally, began with the welfare reform bill, the introduction of universal credit and, in particular, the use of sanctions by the DWP to enforce obedience to its ever more punitive demands on benefit recipients.

Prior to your first term as Prime Minister food banks were not a news item with just 56 Trussell Trust food banks across the UK in 2009/10. In you first year in office that rose to 90, then 185 in 2011/12, 328 in 2012/13, 423 in 2013/14 and 445 in 2014/15 with the total of all food banks at 1,500. 1.1 million emergency food parcels were handed out to approximately 500,000 people with 400,000 food parcels issued to children.

Last year the British Medical Journal warned that in the UK food poverty “has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventive action.”

Of course the proliferation of foods banks and food poverty really isn’t even the half of it. In February this year the Guardian asked “How many benefits claimants have to kill themselves before something is done?”

What facts and figures disguise is the scale of human suffering and torment that poverty inflicts on the millions living with it day in day out, year in year out and that’s before they fall foul of the brutal conditionality regime and sanctions regime of Iain Duncan Smith. Let’s be clear, Jobcentres do not make policy, they merely follow orders and those orders ultimately come from the man in charge of the DWP.

People live in abject terror of the DWP and Jobcentres knowing that welfare has turned into a system of punitive benefits denial and sanctions (with targets) which are not, as Smith and the DWP insist, ‘used as a last resort in a tiny minority of cases where people don’t play by the rules’. Sanctions are routine and imposed for the most spurious reasons with vulnerable people being treated worse than criminals, sentenced without trial to losing the means of survival. People living with relentless apprehension and fear only to lose the very means of their survival eventually give up, taking their own lives. The most telling response I’ve seen to this humanitarian crisis was footage of members of your government mocking and jeering the poor in a food bank debate leading Jamie Reed MP to say, “I regret to say the laughter from the Government benches says more about this issue than words ever could” although your own silence is chillingly telling.

05_january_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 965

Monday 05 January 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I am much impressed with your new election poster, your people-less road to a stronger economy, an empty road. This is the Oxford definition of ‘economy’ – “The state of a country or region in terms of the production and consumption of goods and services and the supply of money.”

That’s a coldly objective expression of what an economy is, but something is missing, unsaid – ‘people’. The people are the economy, the economy is people, without people there is no economy, not even the slightest need for one, not even the idea of such a thing. The existence of an economy depends on the cares and concerns of living people, living real lives.

Do you know how long humans have been around? If the Earth’s history was represented as one year, we came into existence on December 31st at 10pm and recorded history at 30 seconds to midnight. All those billions of years without people or an economy, 4.54 billion years with us tagged on the end, as thin as a human hair.

Britain has just pipped France to the position of the 5th richest economy in the world, reported in the Guardian and Forbes on 26 December 2014. It seems that this was achieved by the inclusion of our multi-billion pound sex and illegal drug industries. And why? So that you and George Osborne can brag about being the only choice for recovery and “…because we put in place a long-term plan with some clear values at its heart”. Oh really?

I had a phone call today from a dear friend who has spent the Christmas and New Year period with homeless people. She had to walk away at times because she didn’t want homeless people to see her in tears. She was shamed by her own tears. She said more than once to me, ‘People need to be out there, this is not an issue we can hide’, but there’s no room for them in your Westminster economic babble.

There is no room for the 13 million people living in poverty, of people turning to debt or food banks to eat on zero hours contracts. There is no room for the 93,000 children who were homeless this Christmas. No room for the 900,000 people who were referred to the Trussell Trust last year. No room for the people subject to 6.1 million JSA sanction between April 2000 and March 2014,  or the estimated 6,800 ESA claimants sanctioned this December among the 80,000 sanctioned for Christmas. The DWP has even abandoned updating the figures for benefit related deaths.

Without the millions of good people who donate, assist and support feeding Britain’s hungry and homeless the death toll in Britain would be even more appalling than it already is. Targeting the poorest and most vulnerable people isn’t recovery, it’s war.


A letter a day to number 10. No 964

Sunday 04 January 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

Britain is not in a crisis in any natural sense. It is a manufactured, market driven, for profit, ideologically imposed austerity fronted by you and your government. Since 2009 printing money as quantitative-easing (QE) has added £375 billion out of fresh air to the banks, that is £5,952.00 for every woman, man and child in the nation.

QE has two immediate effects, it gives the banks some fresh free money to invest and make more money from and it dilutes the existing money in the pockets of ordinary people, thus making them poorer. Diluted money means prices rise because businesses pass on the loss of value in each pound to customers in order to protect their income and profits. In essence QE increases the flow of money upwards with 40 percent of the gains from QE going to the richest 5 percent of British households.

Whilst giving money away to the banks, of course, the rest of us are living under your permanent austerity, announced at your gold plated Lord Mayors bash in 2013 at which it seemed you could hardly keep your buttons done up. Britain now has 13 million people in poverty, over half of whom are in work, the poor and disabled have been punished with 1.28 million JSA sanctions and 41 thousand ESA sanctions since 2012, and 900,000 people have been forced to use a food bank in 2013/14 with the Trussell Trust alone.

Iain Duncan Smith’s vitriolic Christmas message this year was, “Some people see the welfare state as a money-making scam but I have a simple message for them – you will not get away with it.” In fact it is Smith who has turned welfare and Britain’s poorest people into a gigantic money making scam by stealing the very means of survival from those most in need whilst wasting enormous amounts of money on his epic Universal Credit scam to reduce incomes for the poor even further.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector and front-line service jobs have been axed, across all professions including buildings and contents (eg. fire stations and fire-engines), you are quite literally strangling the state to death whilst pouring money into the private sector; it is an epic heist of tax payers money to feed profits. CEO salaries, board room dividends, the bonus culture and, of course, MPs expenses and other benefits and perks.

We might just as well be putting our money in recycling bins marked ‘Banks and the City’. or perhaps ‘Tory Vested Interests’. Not only is there no trickle down, the few crumbs that do accidentally fall from the tables of the rich are swept up and returned by people on Workfare and companies participating are rewarded generously for allowing them to do so. Work under your government is spending the day making food for others and going home starving, needing emergency supplies from a food bank and being called a scrounger for needing help to pay the rent. The only difference between your policies and a giant Ponzi scheme is your ability to starve people into participating.


A letter a day to number 10. No 943

Friday 12 December 2014.

Dear Mr Cameron,

It’s hard to imagine a more inappropriate ambassador to Auschwitz than you, the man in charge of a government whose Work and Pensions Secretary said after his own visit to Auschwitz that ‘ disabled people would be made free by working’.

It is as well the dead cannot act or you would have been hounded from that place by a tsunami of outrage and the fires of indignation. For you to light a candle at Auschwitz on the International Day of Human Rights was a betrayal of the living and the dead.

The latest government guru to find his way to my desktop is one Professor Lawrence M Mead who calls his political creed the “new paternalism” and a champion of welfare to workfare. Mead’s mission is to change the poor, with an expensive, intrusive bureaucracy that “helped and hassled” people back to work. Meade was clearly impressed by Steve Hilton, your director of strategy, who saw ‘conditionality’ as a good in itself, as Meade said, “I was rather surprised that he would focus on conditionality because it takes time to build it up… You have bureaucratic costs, you have childcare costs. But it is doable.” Had Meade done his homework he might have been less surprised in a country steeped in Imperialism and the paternalism of the wealthy and aristocracy, where the upper house will strenuously protect its champagne supplies at public expense whilst a million poor people use food banks, 900,000 via the Trussell Trust alone.

You said at Auschwitz that the world must “never forget” what had taken place there. I say that too, but we do not mean the same thing by that, your political extremism regards it as a role model to be refined and you call that progress. You may say that Auschwitz is “a reminder of why the UK must fight against prejudice, persecution, anti-Semitism and tyranny wherever we find it and stand up for inclusiveness, tolerance and peace”, but words in the mouths of politicians are cheap. You promised this country many things that you have blithely betrayed, even as you make promises you plan betrayal.

It is not those who make and prosecute war who must remember, though they ought, it is the people. Auschwitz is not a memorial for the ruling elites, it is the peoples memorial against the violence and cruelty of ruling elites who have no compassion or mercy and that is what we, the people, must never forget.