Benefit Debates Miss the Point?
Posted on January 30th, 2013 at 3:08PM
The Guardian today reports Downing Street sources saying Food Banks should not be required because benefit levels are high enough http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/30/downing-street-benefits-food-banks?CMP=twt_fd
But isn't that missing the point? It seems to me the main issue is not whether people can cope with the normal daily living costs if on benefits but how they cope when something goes wrong ...
Just take a look at the live requests on our website. They include the very common issue of benefit delays - perhaps once an individual or family is receiving their benefits they will be OK, but meanwhile they can be completely without support without even enough food to eat.
There are other situations such as women who have fled domestic abuse and have nothing - how can they even start to rebuild their lives without substantial help from a range of charities?
This week we had a request for a freeview box for a paralysed man, and we've seen plenty of requests for washing machines for families where launderettes are too far away and too expensive anyway - such capital items are almost impossibly expensive for many people in the UK today.
We also have requests for car repairs - a car may seem a luxury but not if your job depends on having it functioning well. If you are on a low income and various bills come at once, that car repair may tip you over the edge.
I love the fact Acts 435 can respond to all these different types of needs and that those who seek to help will see particular situations they can identify with and feel satisfied that they can make a difference to that person in a tangible, significant way.
Benefits may be just right, they may be too high or too low - in my experience that is to miss the point. Having chatted just this week with a Benefits and Housing Officer about the potential for linking in with Acts 435, there was huge enthusiasm for that new source of help, especially for those experiencing benefit delays. Just today the BBC reports a similar issue for refugees becoming destitute as they wait for benefits to be processed: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21247580
Praise God that there are charities out there like the network of Food Banks able to feed the hungry today, without delay!