"We must, as a society, face up to the fact that over half of people using food banks have been put in that situation by cutbacks to and failures in the benefit system, whether it be payment delays or punitive sanctions."
Regular readers will know that I have very little time for organised religion, but the 27 Anglican bishops who've clubbed together to attack the government for causing a "national crisis" deserve a pat on the back - and this after a senior Catholic, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, described the cutbacks as "punitive" and "disgraceful".
The bishops' letter, published in the Mirror, coincided with the belated appearance of a report into food banks commissioned by Defra
and carried out by researchers from the University of Warwick. The
report was submitted in June and has apparently been under revision
since then on the insistence of government departments, which led to
suggestions it was being suppressed. Quite why it's now finally been
released just as the church leaders' End Hunger Fast campaign gathers
momentum is a mystery, as the admittedly tentative findings endorse the
bishops' case. (The authors themselves are baffled, having only found
out that publication was imminent on Wednesday night.) Either way,
though, the government are rightly coming under increased pressure to
face up to the fact that drastic actions result in desperate
circumstances - common sense, or so you'd think...