New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday described President Ram Nath Kovind’s speech in Parliament as “hollow” and “uninspiring”. Addressing the media, party leader Anand Sharma and Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said Kovind’s address to the joint session of Parliament was just a repetition of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech. “The President’s address was just a repetition of Modi’s speech. He has missed major points like unemployment and GDP downfall,” Sharma said. He took a dig at Kovind for supporting the ‘one nation, one election’ concept and said that simultaneous elections were not feasible due to the country’s diversity. Making a strong case for simultaneous parliamentary and Assembly elections, the President said this was the need of the hour to accelerate development.
The number of people in the UK having to rely on food banks to eat has increased again this year, according to a leading charity.The Trussell Trust, which operates hundreds of food banks across the country, gave out three-day food parcels to 519,342 people in the six months to the end of September – including 188,584 to children.This is an increase compared to the 506,369 parcels the charity gave out during the equivalent months of 2015 and means that the Trussell Trust is on course to deliver a record number of food parcels this year. Use regions/landmarks to skip ahead to chart.Regional variation in Trussell Trust food bank usage. Percentage change in visitor volume between first halves of 2015-16 and 2016-17Long description.No description available.Structure.Chart type: column chart.column series with 12 columns.The chart has 1 X axis displaying categories.The chart has 1 Y axis displaying values.Chart graphic.Regional variation in Trussell Trust food bank usageRegional variation in Trussell Trust food bank usage – Highcharts CloudRegional variation in Trussell Trust food bank usagePercentage change in visitor volume between first halves of 2015-16 and2016-17Percentage change in visitor volume between first halves of 2015-16 and 2016-17Northern IrelandEast MidlandsEastNorth WestScotlandWalesSouth WestWest MidlandsSouth EastYorkshire & HumberLondonNorth East-40%-30%-20%-10%0%10%20%30%40%50%Source: Trussell Trust One of the scenes in Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or winning film I, Daniel Blake takes place in a food bankCredit:Valerie Hache/AFP The number of food banks operating in the UK has increased in recent years and they have come to be seen by many as symbolic of a widening inequality gap.There are hundreds of small independent food bank operators across the UK so the Trussell Trust’s statistics alone cannot be used as a measure of the raw volume of people needing emergency food.However, due to their nationwide coverage, Trussell Trust food banks can be used as a way to gauge trends in demands for emergency food and the factors driving people to need it.The most common reason for people needing to attend a Trussell Trust food bank was because of delays in receiving benefits payments or due to changes in the benefits they were entitled to.Over two in five people attending Trussell Trust food banks between April and September this year gave benefits changes or delays as one the reasons they needed emergency food. Use regions/landmarks to skip ahead to chart.Food parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust. Three-day emergency food parcels given out at food banks between April and SeptemberLong description.No description available.Structure.Chart type: column chart.column series with 3 columns.The chart has 1 X axis displaying values.The chart has 1 Y axis displaying values.Chart graphic.Food parcels distributed by the Trussell TrustFood parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust – Highcharts CloudFood parcels distributed by the Trussell TrustThree-day emergency food parcels given out at food banks between Apriland SeptemberThree-day emergency food parcels given out at food banks between April and September492 641492 641506 369506 369519 342519 3422014201520160100k200k300k400k500k600kSource: Trussell Trust Use regions/landmarks to skip ahead to chart.Reasons for Trussell Trust food bank usage. Proportion of attendees who gave each reason for needing emergency food, April-September 2016Long description.No description available.Structure.Chart type: column chart.column series with 6 columns.The chart has 1 X axis displaying categories.The chart has 1 Y axis displaying values.Chart graphic.Reasons for Trussell Trust food bank usageReasons for Trussell Trust food bank usage – Highcharts CloudReasons for Trussell Trust food bank usageProportion of attendees who gave each reason for needing emergency food,April-September 2016Proportion of attendees who gave each reason for needing emergency food, April-September 2016Benefit delaysLow incomeBenefit changesDebtHomelessnessSickness0%5%10%15%20%25%30%Source: Trussell Trust A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Reasons for food bank use are complex so it’s misleading to link them to any one issue and the vast majority of benefits are processed on time.“We know that work is the best route out of poverty and employment is at a record high. But for those who need extra support, we provide a strong safety net through the welfare system, including hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans.”The DWP also noted that Jobcentre Plus District Managers already have the flexibility to work with food banks on a local level if they wish, as they do with other local community initiatives such as hostels for homeless people.An example of a local partnership on food banks is the Lalley Centre in Manchester where a Work Coach currently visits the centre one day each month. Low income was the second most common reason for needing emergency food, with one in four food bank attendees citing it.David McAuley, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said: “As the number of emergency food parcels provided to people by food banks rises once again, it’s clear that more can be done to get people back on their feet faster. Many food banks now host independent welfare and debt advisers but they cannot solve all the issues.“To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system works fairly and compassionately, stopping people getting to a point where they have no money to eat.”It feels like we could be seeing a new era at the DWP with a consultation on Work Capability Assessments and willingness to engage in dialogue with charities working on the front line. A telephone hotline could build on this and go a long way to improving food banks ability to help get people out of a crisis faster.” On a regional level, Northern Ireland saw the largest increase in Trussell Trust food bank usage with numbers up by 43 per cent in the six months to the end of September 2016 compared with the equivalent period in 2015.The East Midlands saw the next largest increase (up 16.4 per cent), while the North East was the only region to see the number of visitors to Trussell Trust food banks decrease compared to last year. 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