Britain should be proud of food banks

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has been saying that he was shocked that a family in Britain, whose own national statistics show its taxes it’s poorest at a rate of 71%, might be forced to skip between 2 and 6 meals a week (approx 10% of it’s meals), to ensure enough food gets to the children. This is indeed shameful, but not for the reasons Justin Welby gives. It is shameful that the Government does so much to make people poor; taxes even those people who are on the legal minimum wage; and then raises that wage banning the most vulnerable people from acquiring jobs to tide them through crises and leaving private charity as their only option.

What is most shocking, however, is that the food banks themselves are seen as a moral failure. The political system is the least effective means of alleviating poverty and is necessarily a zero-sum game – no one wins when political action is taken. Even the archbishop recognises the difficulty of deploying the political system to address the problems he is talking about, yet rather than avoiding that system he wishes to engage with it. He is creating a new “network” – of which he will be President – and involving public sector bodies and EU Structural Funds. He announces this in the same speech in which he thanks the Trussell Trust and churches for the action that have already taken so effectively on their own.

His contradictory reasoning is a moral failure in it’s own right. The giving of spare food and resources to the hungry is a feature of the wealthiest nations and shows that people will, and do, help others when they can afford to do so. Offering that help is a morally clean action in which there is no obvious loser. In contrast, taking taxpayers money via the EU is the morally foggy: it creates a clear loser. Mandatory donors of confiscated earnings lose money they would not have otherwise donated. That it needed to be forcibly taken is a clue that they would be unwilling or unable to give it charitably.

Food banks are not a moral failure. Every time a food bank helps a family it is an ethical victory – helping to assure the recovery and future happiness of that family while respecting the rightly earned property of those around them. Such families should not feel shame for taking up this freely offered charity, quite the opposite.


I have said before, that food banks are project that libertarians can and should get involved in.


  1. The Left hate food banks as they show that the State fails miserably at its avowed intent of eliminating ‘poverty’. The Left hate the thought that people might deal with a problem out of their own kindness. People on the ‘dole’ suddenly find that the hoped for benefits do not materialise, or they are paid ‘late’. They run out of food.

    I note that the call has gone out in the media for some form of National Food Service, to make up for the deficiencies and incompetence of the welfare system. When people lose their jobs, they find that the State system does not always provide what they understood to be their ‘entitlement’. That the proposed answer involves more State money to make up for the State’s own failings is the obvious issue here, the ‘isolated’ intervention is simply the start.

    And to have a go at food banks for giving away food to those in need, and also to blame supermarkets for disposing of their own out of date food rather than giving it away is the height of humbug.

    I do however, have my concerns that food banks might be milked by the scamming segment of society, e.g. chavs on welfare with Sky TV subs to pay, fags to buy etc. and that using the food bank enables them to spend more of our money on their desires.

    Now when the Archbishop call for a cut in VAT to 15% to increase the disposable income of the poor, that was something, but I can’t seem to find the link… Was I really dreaming?

    How about inheritance tax on Archbishops? When the AoC retires, he is deemed to have died for tax purposes, and the CoE is his ‘estate’ for inheritance tax purposes, and it is taxed at 40% (less a £1,000,000 allowance). Now that would help pay for this scheme.

    Anyway, get your Socialist Action Man Doll here:



  2. […] For a start the left must stop politicising this issue and using it to further their ideological agenda. Food banks are not an argument against austerity, especially when that so-called austerity involves borrowing £2 billion a week just to cover government expenditure. Their moralising over food poverty becomes transparent when they avoid discussing the inflation of food prices caused by the Common Agricultural Policy (heaven forfend that they would criticise their beloved EU), or the heavy taxation (including lifestyle taxes) of the poor as previously mentioned by Simon Gibbs. […]



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