Jobcentres have been criticised as being “thoughtless and uncaring” by a local councillor, for no longer referring people with urgent food needs to charity Foodbanks.
Instead, Jobcentres refer claimants who need food to a complex Leicestershire County Council website, said Harborough District councillor Barbara Johnson.
And she said that as a result, she feared that many people who needed food would be prevented from getting it.
“To refer people with urgent needs to a website is thoughtless and uncaring,” argued Cllr Johnson, who also helps co-ordinate St Dionysius’ charity food contributions.
She said: “There are those in the community who have no way of accessing information this way anyway.
“These are people who are often weighed down with the effort of sorting out their difficulties and find it hard to sustain the effort, often giving in.
“Why can’t the Jobcentre act a little more humanely and at least provide a list of referrers – the Citizens Advice Bureau, local church leaders etc? At least that would be helpful.”
Both the Harborough Jobcentre and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau are actually in the same building – the Symington building on Adam and Eve Street.
In a letter answering a query from Cllr Johnson, the Jobcentre said: “The responsibility for the administration, funding and delivery of Local Welfare Provision was devolved from DWP to County Councils with effect from April 1, 2013.
“As such, we do not make direct referrals to the local Foodbanks.
“However, we do refer customers enquiring about local welfare provision to the Leics County Council website”.
The Government view is that charity food banks form no part of the welfare system.
On the other hand, statistics from major food bank charity the Trussell Trust show that the number of people using food banks more than doubled between 2012-13 and 2013-14.