Government must publish food bank report say MPs

Wed, 04/12/2013 - 14:21 -- nick

A group of MPs has called on the government to publish its long-awaited report on food banks.

The study was delivered to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in June, but there has been speculation that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), headed up by under-fire Iain Duncan Smith, has banned its release.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on hunger and food poverty is chaired by Frank Field MP, who wrote to DEFRA head Owen Paterson, saying:

"We are deeply concerned that something very serious is happening to the poorest individuals in our society and we believe that by publishing the evidence review the Government can kick start an important public debate on this issue.

"I am therefore writing to ask on behalf of the APPG whether you will publish and lay a copy before Parliament as a matter of urgency."

It is thought the DWP has become involved as the report blames benefit cuts, delays and sanctions for the huge rise in food bank use in the UK.

Duncan Smith's reforms are known to cause poverty, with the Trussell Trust confirming that use of its food banks had doubled since they were introduced, and that more than half of referrals were due to benefit problems.

The government has always denied this link, and an independent report confirming its truth would provide a big setback to its campaign against claimants.

A Defra spokesperson rejected claims of suppression, saying: "Government funded research projects are required to go through the necessary review and quality assurance process prior to publication. Once this process is complete, the report will be published on the Government's website."

But Frank Field claimed that the report, carried out by independent experts at the University of Warwick, had been peer reviewed back in June.

The APPG aims to understand why food poverty is growing in the UK, and includes MPs from all parties.

Field started it because ""I was really concerned that we were just neglecting the issues, and allowing food banks to become a part of the welfare state, with us asleep."

UnemployedNet says:

The report has been hanging around inside government for more than five months, and must be published immediately.

Ignoring it does not mean the facts change; benefit claimants are being shoved into poverty by caps, cuts and sanctions, and the denials of ministers do not alter the facts.

We worry that the government is trying the old trick of waiting for a big news day before releasing it on the quiet, trying to hide away inconvenient truths in a flurry of news on another topic.

UnemployedNet calls on all British citizens to stay vigilant and shed the maximum possible light on the report when it is finally made public.

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