Trussell Trust’s Email To Campaigner Says They Know Nothing About IDS Foodbank Benefits Advisor Plans
After campaigner Rick B started this petition yesterday, he received the following email from the Trussell Trust:
We’ve seen your petition on Change.org and wanted to clarify a few things from The Trussell Trust’s perspective, which we hope will be useful.
The story that Iain Duncan Smith is going to put job advisers in foodbanks was inaccurately reported by media last week. The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 420 foodbanks, has had no conversations with the DWP or Iain Duncan Smith about this and has not agreed to roll out this idea. Neither has The Trussell Trust been involved in any pilots. No Trussell Trust foodbank would ever need to worry about being forced to have a DWP advisor in a foodbank, and no Trussell Trust foodbank would be encouraged to do anything that they felt might jeopardise the non-judgemental environment our foodbanks operate in. We have no plans to place DWP ‘job advisers’ in Trussell Trust foodbanks.
At a local level, The Trussell Trust has been discussing ideas to improve DWP processes in order to reduce the number of people left hungry due to problems with benefits delivery. One idea discussed privately with some foodbanks and a small number of backbench MPs (but not yet discussed with DWP) was to give foodbank clients ‘opt in’ access to specific welfare advisers tasked with ‘troubleshooting’ benefit related admin errors, delays or payments that had lead people to need foodbanks. The idea (which has not even been piloted) would be to right the wrongs of the current system which can leave people without an income for weeks or even months, and this person might be available on the phone rather than in a foodbank. This is very different to a ‘job adviser’. We have not spoken with any MPs about placing job advisers in foodbanks and we are keen to highlight that many people at foodbanks are in work. Furthermore, the DWP/JCP actively addressing the benefit delivery problems that it is responsible for could be positive, but this is very different to advising people at foodbanks on employment.
Ultimately we want to find ways to reduce the number of people needing foodbanks because of benefit problems. Given that 44% of referrals to foodbanks are a direct result of benefit related issues, we want to encourage the DWP to change practice in a way that helps resolve this problem, but it is fundamental that whatever solutions are suggested have the interests and wellbeing of foodbank clients at the fore.
Following DWP comments, and the media reports last week, we have asked to urgently meet the Department of Work and Pensions to give our thoughts on ways of working that would offer a better solution for foodbanks clients.
We hope this reassures you.
Head of Media and External Affairs