The truth of the matter is that it’s the invention of the Trussell Trust which has led to the rise in the use of food banks. Not, as the Trussell Trust claims, a rise in the need for aid to the poor, but the development of an efficient technology for providing aid to the poor.
Think on it for a moment. Before mobile phones did people desire to communicate with their friends? Sure they did as the existence of public phone boxes proves. The letter flow through the Royal Mail. That invention of the mobile phone has enabled greater and easier contact with friends – friends are thus contacted more often.
A rise in a something can indeed be because there’s more of that something that needs to be done. Floods will, after all, increase the employment of flood drainers. But it’s also possible that a new technology makes the meeting of an extant need easier, cheaper. In which case the employment of the new technology is not evidence of an increase in need or desire, it’s evidence that we’ve now a cheaper and more efficient method of meeting an extant need.
According to the research, there is “clear and robust evidence” that people struggling on the lowest rungs of the income ladder are pushed rapidly into destitution when their already tight budgets are broken by benefit payment delays, cuts, deductions or sanctions.
Entirely willing to agree with that. Would insist that it is true in fact. Poor people reliant upon benefits get screwed when their benefits don’t turn up. Yes. And?
One in 50 UK households used a food bank in 2018-19, the study estimated, while at least 3m food parcels were given out – highlighting the rise in charity welfare and the impact of austerity cuts since the start of the decade, when only a small number of food banks existed.
Well, there’s the thing. Is it the introduction of food banks that caused the rise in their use? Did the invention of the mobile phone make people want to talk to their friends? Or was there an unmet desire that the new technology did meet?
The answer here is obvious to anyone over the age of 40. For no one possessed of that maturity in years believes, for a moment, that the pre-2000 welfare system always paid the correct benefits at the correct time. I know of one person who waited 8 weeks for their first dole payment in the early 80s. The solution? We all had a whip round and bought a box of food each week.
Food banks have met an existing need. Therefore using the traffic at food banks to measure an increase in need is incorrect.
It might be possible to persuade me that there has been an increase in need over these recent years. After all, I’m one of those who thinks the state cannot handle complicated tasks, complicated like handing out free money. But I’ll only believe you if you also tell me how much of such need there was before the invention of food banks.