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Experts prove link between sanctions and foodbanks

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​Academics mapped benefit sanctions and food bank use and found a link - contrary to what the Tories say

An academic study has proven the link between benefit sanctions and foodbank use.

Oxford University experts have mapped official sanctions data against foodbank referral figures and concluded that a “robust link” exists.

It found a match-up between the number of benefit sanctions handed out and numbers of adults accessing emergency food.

The research busts a long-held Tory myth that there is no link between welfare reforms and hunger.

These findings show clear evidence of sanctions being linked to economic hardship and hunger

Academics found that every three-month increase of 10 sanctions per 100,000 of the population over a four-year period was associated with around five more instances of adults being referred for charity food parcels, suggesting a “strong, dynamic relationship” between the two.

The study’s lead author, Dr Rachel Loopstra, said: “These findings show clear evidence of sanctions being linked to economic hardship and hunger, as we see a close relationship between sanctioning rates and rates of food bank usage across local authorities in the UK.”

Last year, Dr Loopstra spoke at a Poverty Alliance conference which found that the Tories may have been complicit in covering up the extent of food poverty in the country.

Adrian Curtis, Trussell’s foodbank network director, said: “The findings from this groundbreaking study by the University of Oxford tell us once and for all: the more people sanctioned, the more people need foodbanks.”

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesperson said: “The reasons for food bank use are complex, and it is misleading to link them to any one issue. We’re clear that work is the best route out of poverty, and the number of people in employment is at a record high, up by 2.7 million since 2010.

“We continue to spend £90bn on working-age benefits to ensure a strong safety net, providing hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans for those who need them most.”

There are high hopes the situation in Scotland will improve once a range of welfare powers are devolved from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.

As TFN has previously revealed, Scottish ministers are preparing to defy the DWP by refusing to pass on the details of people who find themselves compelled to comply with employability services, effectively making sanctions unworkable.