Foodbanks to house Jobcentre advisers

Trussell-trust cropped

Iain Duncan Smith says he wants Jobcentre advisers placed in foodbanks to help people get jobs 

28th October 2015 by Robert Armour 6 Comments

The UK’s largest provider of foodbanks said it is open to Jobcentre advisors being placed on its premises.

It comes as work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he would like to see a trial scheme in an independent Manchester foodbank rolled out nationwide.

The Tory MP made the announcement to Westminster’s work and pensions select committee.   

The Trussell Trust, which operates 445 foodbanks in the UK, said it would welcome closer co-operation with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Jobcentre advisors would offer advice on employment as well as benefits to people visiting foodbanks.

Advisers involved in the Manchester trial found that foodbank users tended to be more interested in where they might find work than in simply resolving issues with their benefits.

As a result, the advisers were teaming up with local job clubs to point people towards vacancies.

The Trussell Trust is always open to ideas that could help people facing hunger in the UK - spokesperson

A spokesperson for the Trussell Trust said that while they weren’t aware of any pilots taking place in their own foodbanks, the charity was “very keen” to see the results of pilots undertaken by the DWP in other foodbanks. It said it would like to contribute to future discussions on the potential effectiveness of the proposed scheme.

“The Trussell Trust is always open to ideas that could help people facing hunger in the UK,” the spokesperson said.

“We are keen to explore a full range of options, for example locating independent welfare advisers at foodbanks."

They added: “We are currently consulting foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network to gather their views about hosting DWP advisers in foodbanks.”

During the committee hearing, Duncan Smith queried Trussell Trust figures showing a 398% increase in the number of people using its foodbanks between 2012 and 2014 in Scotland.

He said the figures were “not absolutely clear” and needed to be clarified before they were accepted as fact.

Owen Smith, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “The revelation that the government is considering placing DWP staff in foodbanks across the country, highlights the grim reality that people depending on emergency food aid is increasingly a central part of Iain Duncan Smith’s vision for our social security system.

“Under the Tories foodbank use has risen exponentially, leaving more than a million people depending on emergency food. This is in no small part due to the secretary of state’s incompetent and callous running of the DWP.”

28th October 2015 by Ewan Gurr

This is unfortunately sensationalist and false reporting by Robert Armour and Third Force News.Your article suggests a concrete decision has been made to house DWP advisors in foodbanks whereas the statement released by The Trussell Trust emphasises: "we have not yet had the opportunity for dialogue with Iain Duncan Smith or DWP advisors about the feasibility of rolling out this idea." It is also not clear that the "trial" spoken of was not piloted in a Trussell Trust foodbank.The statement from The Trussell Trust is pretty clear. Your article is not.

28th October 2015 by linda severn

I don't think the people visiting will see it this way it will feel like intimidation. We put food in the basket for the food bank every week and we voluntarily give what we can we do not need thanks or anything we are not rich but know lots of people are much worse off than us. They should be able to collect food without being questioned.

29th October 2015 by bill nicol

While it is popular to paint all interaction with the DWP as negative, this pilot with one of the smaller food banks seems to have had some positives. There is the danger, that a one size fits all approach will be used with a national partner, making administration easier. Perhaps a template could be issued and each area office could find partners in there locale. Sometimes, a DWP office feels more like Faslane Naval base than a Citizens Advice office, despite the client crossover. Anything which could facilitate the interaction would help both sides and reduce tensions.

30th October 2015 by Angela

Not everyone going to food banks are unemployed, so what about those that are retired or are in full time employment but on poor salaries? Anything to help them!?

31st October 2015 by David McAuley

This is a very poorly written article which is deliberately trying to tarnish the Trussell Trust by tying the Trussell Trust by poor reporting and inserting comments completely out of context and/ making up and inserting comments never spoken by The Trussell Trust.Robert Armour's reporting of the facts around this story are untrue and unwelcome. He reports "the UK's largest provider of foodbanks (Trussell Trust) said it is open to job centre advisors being placed in its premises" - where did this line come from? The statement from The Trussell Trust actually said "We welcome the Government’s interest in exploring new ways that the DWP might help people at foodbanks who have hit crisis as a result of problems with welfare delivery, but we would also suggest that there first needs to be a dialogue between the DWP and The Trussell Trust network about the possible challenges and opportunities that hosting DWP advisors in foodbanks could afford."It is important to note that the statement from the Trussell Trust says "We need to look at the most helpful ways for local Jobcentres and foodbanks to work together." Armour's statement makes it sound as if a deal has been done and a roll out decision taken which is completely untrue.The Trussell statement goes on to say "The Trussell Trust has had positive discussions with some MPs about whether piloting DWP advisors in their local foodbanks could be beneficial, but we have not yet had the opportunity for dialogue with Iain Duncan Smith or DWP advisors about the feasibility of rolling out this idea. The Trussell Trust runs a network of over 400 foodbanks in the UK, so it would be extremely helpful if we, and foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network, could meet with the DWP as soon as possible to discuss their plans for this scheme." I wonder what Robert is trying to achieve by making up words and attaching them to The Trussell Trust? As CEO of The Trussell Trust I find Armour's reporting of this story extremely concerning and unhelpful.Finally, let me repeat what Trussell actually said and keeping it in context. In its statement The Trust's closing paragraph says "The Trussell Trust is always open to ideas that could help people facing hunger in the UK. We are keen to explore a full range of options, for example locating independent welfare advisors at foodbanks. We are also currently consulting foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network to gather their views about hosting DWP advisors in foodbanks."I believe this statement clearly states our position, I would suggest Robert takes time to re-write his article, keeping everything in context and allows truth to prevail. David McAuley - CEO - Trussell Trust

2nd November 2015 by former WRO

I would be cautious. Ask yourself this - would people trust a DWP person being at the Foodbank? Would people then lose confidence in the impartiality of the Foodbank. A friend of mine - who was made redundant from an executive role - was absolutely disgusted the way people including himself were treated by DWP -" inhumane and highly judgemental - brusque ". I for one if I were a foodbank user would not be happy at this. There are other means that people can find out about work etc., Is this maybe an admission by IDS that DWP and government policy just isn't working? Why assume that folk who out of necessity use foodbanks - do so - because they aren't working - what about the people who are and nearly lost their tax credits recently. the cheek of these people - really!