Food banks, establishments which supply food to destitute societal dependents, are set to become forums in which debt and financial advice is proffered, with respect to a new, radical initiative designed to aid its clientele tackle the issues which led to their deprivation.
The Trussell Trust, charitable pioneers of the food bank sector, expressed its intent to foster a radical scheme whereby those who have fallen on hard times would be afforded appropriate access to legitimate financial information, enabling them to break free from the shackles of indigence.
Seeking to combat what it perceives as long waiting times due to administrative staleness and a general profusion of poor advice permeating through, The Trussell Trust will initially limit the scale of its scheme, setting up shop in around 6 food banks across the UK. It has been funded by Martin Lewis, founder of influential financial advice site www.moneysavingexpert.com. A long term critic of the shady tactics deployed by many financial service providers, notably the payday lending sector, Lewis is seeking to perpetuate the proliferation of sound financial nous across society, initially targeting the most financially vulnerable.
Martin Lewis said: "The hope is that this scheme will provide a financial equivalent of 'give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime'." He added: "I've been campaigning for financial education in schools for years, finally that starts on the curriculum in September, but that still leaves great swathes of our society, especially some of the most needy struggling with even the basics of money management."
Having conducted a survey of roughly 4, 000 people, The Trussel Trust discovered that 1 in 10 people took out a payday loan last year, with multiple reasons being listed, most of which are concerned with the upkeep of a borrowersí family.
An estimated 900, 000 people were beneficiaries of the Trustís three day emergency food programme, an increase of over 150% on the previous year; an unsurprisingly spiralling number given wages continued languishing behind inflation and the escalating prices of many food stuffs. Soaring energy prices, a government crackdown on benefits and the subsequent synthesis of low paid jobs within the economy have seen an increasing proportion of people falling on hard times.
David McAuley, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: "It's deeply concerning that the basics of dignified life in modern Britain ñ food, heat and electricity ñ can fall out of reach for so many. "High prices, static incomes, problems with benefits and harsh welfare sanctioning are forcing people into extreme financial difficulty. When you're facing stark choices between eviction or feeding the family, debt and high-interest loans can seem to offer a short-term solution; the reality is that this often forces finances to spiral out of control. "By introducing a 'financial triage' service in food banks, where clients are able to connect with free financial and debt advice, people will be given professional help to manage tight finances, avoid payday lenders and structure debt to prevent the situation from getting worse and to help people break out of crisis much faster."
The ìprofessional helpî will come in the form of advice from debt charities, which will be stationed at delineated food banks across the UK for up to 20 hours a week. There will be possibilities for clients to arrange further meetings to build on ideas for escaping financial turmoil.
It is hoped that this somewhat radical measure will aid societyís struggle against illegal loan sharks, and now the seedy payday sector, which has caused major controversy in recent times. The Trussel Trustís initiative will begin in September, with areas all around the UK involved.