One of the people who has featured in many previous blogs is Baron David Freud who apart from his comment in the image, also spoke in 2013 in the House of Lords
“My Lords, there is actually no evidence as to whether the use of food banks is supply led or demand led. The provision of food-bank support has grown from provision to 70,000 individuals two years ago to 347,000. All that predates the reforms. As I say, there is no evidence of a causal link.”
As a result of this speech he was challenged on numerous occasions to visit a foodbank to see for himself if the increasing demand was as a result of greater poverty, or if there were simply too many foodbanks. However being an arrogant and unfeeling man he refused to do so. It is not a surprise that Freud who is Minister of State for Welfare Reform at the Department for Work and Pensions has continued to show an entire disregard for facts and the reality of life for many of the people he makes decisions on behalf of. Thankfully he has announced he will be stepping down from his role at the end of this month. However as part of his last official actions, on Wednesday in the House of Lords he was at the dispatch box to answer questions on the theme Social Security: Claimants. One of those who asked him a question was the newly elevated Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman who asked:
My Lords, given that the National Audit Office has today said that there is limited evidence that benefit sanctions work but rather that they result in “hardship, hunger and depression”, can the Minister update the House as to whether Her Majesty’s Government will now commit to a substantial review of the use and implementation of sanctions?
The reply from Lord Freud came:
I congratulate the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle on her first question. I hope they will not all be as painful in future as this one. I cannot make that commitment. As is said in the report, the reality is that sanctions work. There is a lot of external evidence of sanctions having a substantial impact on employment uptake, whether you are looking at the evidence from Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark or Germany. Our own survey shows that people on both JSA and ESA are more likely to accept the rules of the system with the sanction system behind it.
If David Freud found that question painful, I can only hope that long after he has left the Government he continues to be challenged in a manner that is similarly painful until eventually he admits that his unwillingness to get off his complacent seat in the House of Lords and around the Cabinet Table has led to miscarriages of decision making. Let us hope his replacement shows more integrity! He will not be missed.