The report on hunger came and went. For the media it was a one-day wonder and then they moved on. The coverage elicited the expected denial and incomprehension, and nothing will be done.
The report, unfortunately, conflated two unrelated issues; the huge wastage of food, and the fact that large numbers of people can't afford food at all. This allowed the media to focus on the first and to give the impression that the surplus food now thrown out could feed the poor. There are, in fact, several organisations such as Fareshare which collect surplus food from the producers and retailers and pass it on for distribution to those charities which feed people; but they can't pass it on to food banks because it's fresh food which can't be stored by those food banks. And anyway, that would not solve the problem of why people are going hungry.
It was important that the report brought out the reasons for food poverty. It drew on the figures collected by the Trussell Trust to show that the majority of users are suffering from benefit delays and sanctions. How did Iain Duncan Smith respond? According to a Guardian report, he "promised to respond positively, telling MPs "“We want to do everything we can to make sure that people do not stumble into a process of sanctions”. But on the same day the paper reported, "It is also unlikely that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will shift its stance on the administration of benefit sanctions, even though the report says they are the single biggest reason for the poor resorting to food banks. DWP sources said it was very clear at the start of a benefit claim what was required of a claimant and there would be consequences for failing to meet that commitment." The FT commented on a suggestion by Nick Clegg, among others, that there should be a sort of "yellow card" system for sanctions, a warning before an actual sanction was imposed. Many of us would endorse that, and could come up with detailed plans for how it could work. But, "aides to Iain Duncan Smith, work and pensions secretary, argued that the yellow card warning system was 'not necessary' because jobseeker’s allowance claimants were now required to sign a 'claimant commitment'. This left them in no doubt as to the obligations they were required to fulfil in return for their social security." So IDS's pious words in the House of Commons were nothing more than pious words. He did say that he would ensure that people are informed about hardship payments; but neglected to tell his colleagues that such payments are a pittance and don't kick in immediately anyway.
At least we know where Business Minister Matthew Hancock stands. He said that that food banks had only increased “because more people know about them” and that poverty in Britain “coming down”.
I could point you to numerous articles about the report and the fall-out from it. But you can find them for yourself. The fact is that nothing will change. At PMQs today Clegg, standing in for Cameron, reeled off lie after lie, apparently believing what he was saying.