Local councils plan to strengthen foodbanks following this year’s controversial Welfare Reform Act, which, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, represents the biggest reform to welfare for 60 years.
In 2013, the government will devolve functions of their social fund to local councils. This means that local authorities will be in charge of community care grants and emergency financial support for residents.
The Guardian reported that some local authorities are looking to strengthen foodbanks or provide cards to buy items at specified shops, rather than offering cash for families needing emergency financial support. Lambeth Council proposed a controversial plan to back food banks following cuts to their social fund budget.
This news has caused concern over the distribution and allocation of welfare in the UK. Campaigners worry that foodbanks are not suitable for helping people in need of emergency items, such as cookers or fridges.
Food banks were originally set up as charitable organizations, usually based in churches, to help people find emergency supplies such as canned and packaged food. UK food bank charity, The Trussell Trust, announced in October that over 100,000 people in Britain received help from a food bank in the last six months.
According to data supplied by the Trussell Trust and published by the Guardian Data Blog, there are currently 27 foodbanks in London, though this figure is set to grow over the coming years as demand for foodbanks increases in the capital.
15,015 or 0.18% of people in London use foodbanks as a source of emergency support. Of these 15,015 people, 6,388 are children. According to figures from the London Poverty Profile, 2011, 530,000 children are living in poverty in London.
Currently foodbanks are separate from state control. There are concerns that if foodbanks receive direct funding from councils, this could compromise the project.