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Economic Collapse Of Britain Entering New Phase

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Tens of thousands of benefits claimants will be referred to food banks by the Government, which is worried that many Britons face a stark choice: starvation or feeding themselves by begging or stealing.

From tomorrow, jobcentres in England and Wales will refer the needy to charity-run food banks that will give them a food parcel. It is the first time in living memory that hungry people will have been passed on to charities in this way.

The move comes amid growing levels of food poverty, fuelled by rising food prices and high rates of unemployment. Under the scheme, people whose benefits have been delayed, or have been refused crisis loans, will be referred to their local food bank. A claimant will be limited to three consecutive referrals – each time giving them enough food for three days. They will be given basics such as tinned soup, baked beans, meat, fish and pasta.

The scheme will operate from more than 70 food banks run by the Trussell Trust, a Christian charity. It will open another 60 in the next six months, according to Jeremy Ravn, a director. "We are forecasting that we will feed somewhere between 90,000 and 100,000 this financial year," he said. "And we'd expect 30-40 per cent of those to be [caused by] problems over benefits."

Demand for emergency food has soared in many parts of the country. Coventry food bank fed almost 800 people in July – up from 171 in April. In Bournemouth, the figure rose from 168 in April to 348 in August. And in Norwich, the numbers given food jumped from 122 in April to 335 last month.

The total given emergency food boxes will rise from 61,000 in 2010 to an estimated 100,000 this year, according to the trust, which predicts that half a million Britons will need help by 2015. The latest available figures reveal that, in 2008-09 in England and Wales, almost 2.4 million people applied for crisis loans. Only 1.7 million received an initial award, meaning almost 700,000 were left waiting for a loan or had their applications turned down.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said yesterday that the scheme would "signpost" claimants for help. "Jobcentre Plus helps thousands of people every day. As part of that work, we will be happy to signpost those people who need it to the Trussell Trust or other organisations that provide additional help."

Rebecca Waller, 21, from Salisbury, took part in a pilot when she was unemployed earlier this year. "I applied for a crisis loan, which was turned down. I found myself absolutely broke. It was embarrassing having to use the food bank but the people there made me feel really comfortable. Although I only used the scheme once, I'm not sure how I would have coped without it."

Oxfam research shows that up to 6 per cent of Britons report they have enough to eat only "sometimes".

Helen Longworth, Oxfam's head of UK poverty policy, said: "It's shocking that more and more people in the UK are being forced to go to food banks to be able to eat ... In this day and age, nobody should be forced to choose between paying a bill or feeding their family."

A UK 'jobcentre'. Oxymoron.

How many of these folk are hanging on to some 2007 era mortgage in the vain hope that HPI in the region of 7-10% p.a. is going to save them from their bad judgement.

Most of the 'hungry' people I know in Britain are those with some kinds of asset. Enjoying your tin of beans over candle light in your together mortgage funded property for nearly 5 years now...

A country of frickin morons.

EDIT: Additionally, how many of these folk got some kind of 'degree' in one of the macabre soft science fields created over the last 15 years or so?

Edited by cashinmattress

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Food stamps to replace benefit payments soon?

The BoE folly of debasing the currency is going to present the govt with some very dangerous decisions.

How soon before food poverty extends beyond the unemployed to those on low wages?

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There'll have been a diktak from on high.

It will be trumpeted as a triumph for the Big Society.

They'd better hope those Christians 1) continue have enough income that they can donate to food banks and 2) don't start suffering from compassion fatigue (though I'm sure the pastors/priests wouldn't stand for such a thing).

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The US system of foodstamps is run through state issued swipecards. They can actually reserve certain parts of the benefits for buying fresh food. A nanny state dream!

Yeah. One night a month keeps wallmart in the DOW JONES top 30 in perpetuity, via 'we the people', aka taxpayer.

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At 11 p.m. on the last day of the month, shoppers flock to the nearest Walmart. They load their carts with food and household items and wait for the midnight hour. That's when food stamp credits are loaded on their electronic benefits transfer cards.

"Once the clock strikes midnight and EBT cards are charged, you can see our results start to tick up," says Tom Schoewe, Wal-Mart Stores Inc's chief financial officer.

As food stamps become an increasingly common currency in a struggling U.S. economy, they are dictating changes in how even the biggest retailers do business.

From Costco to Wal-Mart, store chains are rethinking years of strategy as they watch prized customers lose jobs and turn to this benefit, the stigma of which is disappearing not just in society, but in corporate America.

Besides staffing up for the spike in shoppers on the first day of the month, retailers are adjusting when and what they stock, updating point-of-sale systems to accept food stamps and shifting expansion plans to focus on lower-income shoppers.

Take Costco Wholesale Corp, a warehouse club operator that caters to middle income Americans who must pay $50 a year to shop in its stores. Nudged along by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who threatened legal action, Costco began accepting food stamps at a few New York stores in May. It now plans to clear the payments in all of its 413 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico.

"Our view was ... we would not get a lot of food stamps because our member on average is a little more upscale," Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said in October. "Well, I think that was probably a little bit arrogant on our part."

As of September, a record of more than 37 million people were enrolled for the government benefit, federal officials told Reuters, an increase of nearly 35 percent since the U.S. slid into recession at the end of 2007.

An estimated one in eight Americans depends on the benefit to buy food. With the nation's unemployment in double digits, more people are expected to enroll. By some government estimates, up to 16 million people who are not receiving food stamps today could qualify.

For a graphic on growing food stamp use, click on link.reuters.com/huq47g

What's more, unemployed Americans are finding that it takes longer and longer to get work. This suggests that food stamps will play a bigger role over the next few years, not just for people, but for stores in need of customers, according to interviews with retail executives, economists, federal and state officials and benefit recipients.

"It is a very important and increasingly important source of revenue for the ... supermarkets and stores that have been approved across the country to process those benefits," Kevin Concannon, U.S. undersecretary of agriculture, said in an interview this month.

Stores have little choice but to respond. And they are.

In the fiscal year that ended in September, 193,753 U.S. retailers accepted food stamps, 17 percent more than the same period two years earlier. "For some chains... it's 10 to 12 percent of their revenues," Concannon said. "Depending on how poor the area may be, it may even be higher."

Tellingly, electronic benefits transfer (EBT) transactions processed by retailers jumped 53 percent this year on a same-store sales basis on Black Friday, the kickoff to the U.S. holiday shopping season, payments processor First Data told Reuters.

EBT includes food stamps and other government benefits like temporary cash assistance for needy families and food assistance for new and expecting mothers.

THE NEW FOOD STAMP SHOPPER

Thelma Zambrano wants to keep shopping at Costco, but can't afford to renew her membership since losing her customer service job at a bank. Now, she takes monthly food stamp benefits of about $300 and helps others do the same at the Community Action Partnership of Orange County, California, a nonprofit that helps poor people and where she now works.

"Before we made anywhere from $55,000 to $65,000, and right now... I'm lucky if I make $15,000 or $20,000," said Zambrano, a 26-year-old mother of two from Santa Ana. She and her husband have cut spending to the bone and moved in with relatives.

Most food stamp recipients subsist on earnings below the poverty line -- roughly $22,000 annually for a family of four -- and many new users are from the ranks of the working poor.

Zambrano's experience illustrates how the recession also has sent many middle-income families into economic freefall. Their circumstances have, in turn, served as a wake-up call for food retailers that never thought their clientele would depend on public assistance.

For her part, Zambrano let her mother know that a new membership to Costco would make a perfect holiday gift. "She got the hint," she said. "I'm sure we'll probably get our membership for the next year."

Eighty-five percent of food stamp benefits are redeemed at grocery and warehouse stores, and the program means serious business for such retailers.

Nearly $55 billion in food stamps may be redeemed this year, up from about $37 billion in 2008 and $31 billion in 2007, according to The Nilson Report.

The USDA expects to have more than $64 billion to spend on food stamp benefits in fiscal 2010, including nearly $6 billion in anticipated stimulus money, up 14 percent from fiscal 2009.

Dollar General says food-stamp use accounts for about 4 percent of its sales, and is growing about 10 percent year over year.

Kroger Co Chief Executive David Dillon said food stamp use at the biggest U.S. grocery chain is at the highest levels that executives at the company can remember.

"You go back to three or four years ago, the food stamp volume we're currently running is not quite double, but it's a lot higher. So it's very significant," Kroger's Dillon said recently.

END OF THE MONTH BLUES

Tina Contraeras is one of those shoppers who goes to Walmart on the first of each month. She shops at the one in American Canyon, just outside California's Napa Valley.

Unemployed and on disability benefits, Contraeras, 45, has custody of her grandchildren, ages 2 and 3. She has resorted to circling the first of the month on her calendar so that when her grandchildren are hungry, she can count down the days until they can return to the grocery store.

"I have to make a game out of it for the kids," she said. She feels she has no other choice.

Technology is one reason the food-stamp stigma is fading. While recipients once announced their status by pulling out bulky coupon books at the checkout counter, today's users are far less noticeable.

Benefits from the food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other types of government financial assistance are loaded onto EBT cards that can be swiped to make a payment, just like a debit or credit card.

Like Contraeras, other food-stamp beneficiaries appear to waste little time cashing in their benefits. According to J.P. Morgan which administers EBT programs for more than 20 states, 85 percent of food stamps are depleted within the first three days they are available.

Companies like Walmart and Kroger now talk about a sales bump on those days, a phenomenon that more than a decade ago inspired a song by hip hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony called "1st of tha Month."

Poverty hit an 11-year high in 2008, the same year in which a government report showed that more than 49 million Americans were at risk of going hungry.

And recreating the jobs lost during a downturn doesn't necessarily happen fast. It took nearly four years to regain all the jobs lost during the 2001 recession, when unemployment peaked at 6.3 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C.

Expecting the worst this time around, retailers are trying to reposition their business for what they call a "new normal," where jobs are scarcer, and more and more Americans depend on the government to make ends meet.

After years of wooing higher income shoppers, national chains are now seeing opportunity in the low end of the market.

Supervalu Inc recently announced plans to open 50 new Save-A-Lot discount stores this year and to have another 100 stores in the pipeline for next year. The additions will bring its total number of Save-A-Lot stores to about 1,330.

It is paying for the initiative by halving its quarterly dividend.

Family Dollar Stores Inc, which sells most of its merchandise for below $10, began realigning its business even before the downturn. It installed refrigerators and coolers in its stores, enabling it to sell perishable food like milk and luncheon meat, and upgraded its checkout system to accept EBT as payment.

To accept food stamps, retailers must sell food in each of four staple food groups: bread and grains; dairy, fruit and vegetables; and meat, poultry and fish. Or, at least 50 percent of the total sales in a store must be from the sale of eligible staple food, like flour, bread or beef.

Dorlisa Flur, Family Dollar's chief merchandising officer, says the store's core shoppers have been "under pressure" for years. She describes that core shopper as a woman who earns less than $40,000 a year and lives paycheck to paycheck. This shopper was hit hard in 2005 when gasoline prices spiked in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Then came a surge in food prices, a housing bust and recession.

"When the whole housing market fell apart too, that really drove her to lean on food stamps," Flur said. "By accepting EBT, we were opening up a portion of the wallet we were not able to touch before."

Most retailers are reluctant to discuss how much money they have spent updating their point-of-sale, or POS, systems to accept food stamps as payment.

J.P. Morgan said that in an effort to limit expenses for retailers as paper food stamps were phased out, EBT cards were designed to work off existing magnetic stripe technology.

"The expense for updating POS terminals was more than absorbed by the savings from eliminating paper handling," according to Christopher Paton, managing director in J.P. Morgan's Treasury Services Public Sector Group.

Retailers could more than make up for their investments if food stamp ranks continue to swell, as expected.

There are currently 1.25 million households receiving food stamp benefits in California, and 1.22 million households in Texas, according to the USDA. As of 2007, the latest year of available data, only half of eligible individuals in those states were enrolled to receive the benefits.

Many Californians are intimidated by the application process or do not realize they are eligible, keeping food stamp usage far below where it should be, said Alameda County Community Food Bank spokesman Brian Higgins.

Calls to his food bank, across the bay from San Francisco, for emergency food help have surged.

"In our first 13 years, we only went over 1,500 (phone calls) in one month twice," he said. "We've gone over 3,000 (phone calls) for the fourth month in a row and the numbers are going up."

The food bank, which runs a food stamp outreach program, tells callers that they might qualify for the benefit.

Pamela Center, 48, turned to the Alameda Food Bank for help when she signed up for food stamps in November. Center, an in-home care provider, saw her monthly income shrink to about $410 from $1,500 after she lost a client.

She tries to stretch her dollars by eating at her parents' house or visiting food banks, but she was still not getting enough to make it through the month. That hunger led her to overcome her own inhibitions and sign up for benefits.

"With my pride, I was like, 'I really don't want to do this,' but if I don't I will have nothing left in my house," she said.

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I remember being told about the "crisis loan" in the early 90's and going to Woolwich Benefit Office, collecting my ticket and waiting an hour plus for the hordes of people to collect their £45. The story was always that you couldn't do your weekly shop, you had to say you hadn't eaten for 2 days and then it was guaranteed. You could go back a few weeks later and they could only take £2 or something from your income support and you could end up getting £200, if you played it right you could then avoid having to pay it back.

I am assuming this is just a way of them swerving around that payment. Everyone at Woolwich would just go straight into the pub or bookies. If you believe there are people in this country who are genuinely famished then you are an absolute fool, people may choose to spend the money on booze or fags but NOBODY is forced into food poverty in the UK like they are in the US.

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The US system of foodstamps is run through state issued swipecards. They can actually reserve certain parts of the benefits for buying fresh food. A nanny state dream!

Also a form of printy printy as well. How convenient. And don't forget that JP Morgan profit nicely from foodstamps as well.

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IIHO Poverty already exists for those on low wages, it is hidden via various forms of tax credit. They don't have a living wage so receive indirect handouts.

I agree. Tax credits for people who really pay less than the tax credit itself in many cases. It's a benefit and used to be called Family Income supplement.

It's now 1 in 8 adults and 1 IN 4 CHILDREN in the USA living on food stamps.

The thing is, they have reached a sort of bottom with this and with their house price crash. It has some way to go to work right through. But the USA will come out of this better than Europe.

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I remember being told about the "crisis loan" in the early 90's and going to Woolwich Benefit Office, collecting my ticket and waiting an hour plus for the hordes of people to collect their £45. The story was always that you couldn't do your weekly shop, you had to say you hadn't eaten for 2 days and then it was guaranteed. You could go back a few weeks later and they could only take £2 or something from your income support and you could end up getting £200, if you played it right you could then avoid having to pay it back.

I am assuming this is just a way of them swerving around that payment. Everyone at Woolwich would just go straight into the pub or bookies. If you believe there are people in this country who are genuinely famished then you are an absolute fool, people may choose to spend the money on booze or fags but NOBODY is forced into food poverty in the UK like they are in the US.

...and as someone else pointed out if they weren't spending money on propping up HPI through housing benefit they might have a bit more money to spend on genuine cases.

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That reminds me, has anyone seen Kennichi recently?.

You've heard of dog eat dog. The chinese a have similar saying, "man eat man".

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The daily mail will have a story about how the feckless unemployed are getting free food at taxpayer expense. No doubt with a shock piece on how some of them have been seen munching kitkats on the side.

SCROUNGERS LIVE IT UP ON KIT KATS WHILE CLAIMING FREE FOOD!!!!!

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You've heard of dog eat dog. The chinese a have similar saying, "man eat man".

When times get hard, we're NOT in this together.

Don't be so sure - just look how quickly people banded together to fight off the rioters.

When the going gets tough, the last thing you want to be is on your own.

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So today we have a thread about how everyone getting tax credits is on an effective £50k gross, and another one about how they are too skint to buy food

No I think you have got a bit muddled up there

There is one thread about low and average wage earner's getting tax credits this thread is about the unemployed getting food from charitys. Bit of a difference.

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From tomorrow, jobcentres in England and Wales will refer the needy to charity-run food banks that will give them a food parcel. It is the first time in living memory that hungry people will have been passed on to charities in this way.

Are you listening Dave and Nick, there is more chance of being struck by lightning twice in the same place than getting reasonable employment to live a basic life.

How the hell you expect those living on benefits for years to get employment, the mind boggles. My research the past 6 months has shocked me in finding there are no jobs available for those who genuinely want to work.

I have finally given up, retraining, a complete joke, the waiting list is so long a young person will be in their grave by the time a vacancy on course comes up for them. :rolleyes:

Every time I hear Clegg speak I could smack him in the mouth. :angry:

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A claimant will be limited to three consecutive referrals – each time giving them enough food for three days. They will be given basics such as tinned soup, baked beans, meat, fish and pasta.

For sure it will be in their election manifesto somewhere.

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And how much food is STILL being wasted in this country every day??? Why aren't supermarkets forced to give all the food they throw away to foodbanks?

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And how much food is STILL being wasted in this country every day??? Why aren't supermarkets forced to give all the food they throw away to foodbanks?

They can't keep it...a lot of it has to be got rid of immediately....most foodbands work off a set list of non-perishable food.

Moreover I believe it's an insurance issue...you give an "out of date" item to the local meals on wheels; someone gets ecoli - and the proverbial hits the fan.

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The US system of foodstamps is run through state issued swipecards. They can actually reserve certain parts of the benefits for buying fresh food. A nanny state dream!

Makes perfect sense in the right context.

Or would you rather deal with "child poverty" by throwing ever more booze-and-fags money at the parents?

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but NOBODY is forced into food poverty in the UK like they are in the US.

Up to a point ...

That point being, when you're refused benefits because you show them your accounts for the previous year, when you made a gross amount that's about £3.50/day above the level of jobseeker's allowance, thereby disqualifying you as too rich to claim. Oh, and being single means no gravy-train.

So you have (at today's rates) £70/week to live on if business neither improves nor deteriorates. The rent is £140/week. Whoops!

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And how much food is STILL being wasted in this country every day??? Why aren't supermarkets forced to give all the food they throw away to foodbanks?

There's a certain amount of spin about wasted food. The figures for food waste widely quoted include all the bits we don't eat: skins, stones and stalks from many fruits, tea and coffee grounds, the pods from your peas, rind from cheese, etc.

I've no idea what proportion of food waste really is good stuff genuinely wasted.

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  • 343 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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