Welfare Reform & Charity

By:A.C.

Earlier this year our Facebook page had links about the rise of Food-banks and the secret advice given to Civil Servants.

It is reported that Senior Civil Servant Neil Couling, from the DWP attended the Holyrood Welfare reform Committee and told the Committee that Food Bank use was down to how poor Scots maximise their opportunities.

“My view, very clearly, is that this is a supply-led growth going on, and it will continue to grow over the years ahead, whatever the path of welfare policies are, because we live in a society where there are poor people and rich people, and people will maximise their economic choices. That’s just how economies work,”

So this Civil Servant feels that “market forces“ should control welfare then? It is difficult for ordinary folk who possess only the basics of formal education to understand or comprehend the bigger picture that seems to be behind the Government push for Churches, Charities, and other interested parties to take on the burden of Food Banks and Welfare provision.

One does not need a University degree or Diploma in Economics to understand that if a person needs to eat to survive, they will indeed maximise their opportunities. For some that will include stealing, begging, betting and gaming or going to a loan shark. These things only increase the misery and entangle many folk in a downward spiral of debt and social deprivation.

If a Civil Servant has sanctioned a claimant, they also have the wherewithal to guide folk to getting a Government Crisis Loan. However, it would seem that staff prefer to “signpost” – the new word for referral – clients to “other welfare opportunities”.

It is very difficult to not comment on the unspoken “Victorian” style of Welfare Reform as it is so obviously black and white in its “deserving poor and undeserving poor” and is reduced to simple economics of survival.

Or as a Mr Couling put it “people will maximise their economic choices”. He also seems very aware that faith–based groups like the Trussell Trust finance and support food banks, are evangelical in their outreach to the poor and needy.

“Neil Couling, Work Services Director of the DWP, told MSPs the increase in people seeking help was down to more food banks being available which he said was an “evangelical tool” by the Trussell Trust.
Mr Couling defended the use of sanctions, and denied there were quotas to be met.”

Alms giving, compassion and charity to fellow human beings is at the heart of most faith–based scriptures, occidental or oriental, and has been for millennia.

By the giving of oneself, resources, time and fighting against injustice, one fulfils the essence of being human, whether one is an atheist, agnostic, humanist, or has any faith or belief system.

Based on what I see, this Government cynically and hypocritically try to put over “Victorian” values of Welfare Reform, from a time when genuine Welfare Reformers saw inhumanity, and they changed legislation to implement Acts of Parliament ranging from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to stopping Child Slavery.

This current lot do not even come anywhere close to those Victorian reformers who genuinely changed our society for the better.

There appears to be a cabal of admirers of a rather American Republican style of Governance which has installed itself in key positions. Those anti–socialist, anti–humanist, anti-atheist types from faith communities see charity and the giving of alms as their fiefdom. Are these people unaware of very cynical politicians who see their zeal and evangelical faith as a great way to save money on Welfare?

In the UK, at the moment, it is called “signposting”, and Civil Servants are advised not to say it is part of the Welfare System. Though, I think we can all see where this is going.

Mr Couling puts this cynicism rather well. He suggests that people whether in need or not will use food banks anyway as a way to “ maximise their opportunities”, deftly avoiding the fact that it is the Police, Social Workers, Civil Servants and Job Centre staff who see the need and hand out the voucher that entitles help from the food bank.

One cannot simply turn up at a Food bank and get service on demand. Therefore, increased usage of food–banks must be from what is actually happening to those in need. As observed by those who give out the vouchers.

Once again it seems that the DWP wish to label the poor and needy, that they have helped to create through their policies, as shameless fraudsters, who are already racketeering.

Already there are calls from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) that the UK faces a crisis in the provision of an affordable healthy diet for the populace.

Some might say that Mammon is the real faith that has a hidden shrine somewhere in Government. I would therefore caution these organisations about encouraging those “political friends” who seem to support a more American Republican style of welfare, and severely scrutinise those who seem all too eager to exploit your undoubted good-heartedness, and the energy of your volunteers.

You might find, that having trusted the Politicians in good faith, you will be left with the Welfare Burden, and expected to do more.

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