Benefits boss makes me wonder who the chancers are

WHO is responsible for the huge increase in the number of people requiring help from a food bank?

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The UK Government has maintained more people are going because more food banks have opened.

Now a top JobCentre official has claimed poor people are using food banks to "maximise economic opportunities".

Neil Couling was that man - he is the Director of Work Services with the Department of Work and pensions.He told the Holyrood Welfare Reform Committee poor people are no different from the rich in that respect.

So, blame the charities for providing food for those in need and then blame those in need for accepting the help on offer.

Anything but address the need in the first place.

The biggest reason for people being referred to food banks is benefit delay, benefit changes or sanctions - an increasing reason in the last year.

A significant proportion of people who use food banks have children, 27% according to Citizens Advice Scotland. But the biggest group is single men with no dependents. When they are sanctioned they have nothing, so where are they to turn? Mr Couling said people with children who are sanctioned don't lose all their benefit, only the single adult element, suggesting they don't really need charitable assistance.

It is still a cut in a meagre income that wasn't enough to make ends meet to begin with

Mr Couling suggested people, many whom walk for miles with children to get the most basic supplies, are "responding to an incentive".

That is Mr Couling's idea of an opportunist, or in other language, a chancer.

He works for a government which uses the cover of welfare reform to attack the welfare state, to reduce a deficit caused in part by the failure of the political class to check the greed of the financial sector causing a banking collapse, and at the same time managing to provide a tax cut for the super-rich while claiming we are all in it together.

Exactly who are the chancers in this situation?

Figures show more than 200 sanctions are applied to jobseekers every day in Scotland, and analysis by a Glasgow University academic shows financial penalties are higher than those given to criminals in the sheriff courts.

Sanctions such as penalties for failing to meet strict targets set by the DWP, many of which are overturned on appeal - but the initial hardship caused can't be rescinded.

The Welfare Reform Committee also heard how DWP offices were encouraged use the "more brutal types" to meet unofficial or secret quotas.

Having heard the comments from Mr Couling, I no longer wonder who their role model is.

Food and drink

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