Why we don't want the government running food banks


There is, as we all know, a certain argument going on about food banks and their usage in the UK. It's most certainly true that the number of food banks, the number of people using them, has expanded considerably in recent years. This is used as an argument to insist that there's a gap in the welfare state: and that argument is also entirely true. That, in turn, has led to the argument that government must take over to fill that gap in said welfare state: that is lunacy of the highest order. Because:

People are at risk of going hungry and losing their homes because of avoidable delays to benefits, a cross-party committee of MPs has said.

In a damning report, the Commons work and pensions committee called on the government to work harder to cut delays to payments and set a new target to help reduce mistaken underpayments.

Hmm, bureaucracy is not swift and efficient, who knew?

Under the current regime, the committee said, advisory organisations such as Shelter and Citizens Advice reported that benefit underpayments left some individuals vulnerable and facing difficult decisions over whether to pay their rent or provide essentials such as food, gas and electricity for their household. Others found that individuals could become reliant on food banks as a result of underpaid benefits.

Actually, other figures show that from many to a majority of food bank users are there because of that noted efficiency of the state in processing the money to which they are entitled.

Which is why we're just copacetic with the idea that a smaller, nimbler, organisation like the Trussell Trust should handle that provision of food: something which does need to be done on a timely basis. Not because the State should not be involved in making sure that the poor have food to eat, but because the State is, provably, incompetent at making sure that the poor have food to eat. Thus it seems logical to have a private sector provider, one that is actually competent to perform the needed task, perform said task.

We are utilitarians here, we have no problems with, indeed desire it to, the State doing what it is better at. But obviously we don't want it doing what it is worse or incompetent at. True, that leaves us with a pretty small, minarchist even, government at the end of the consideration of what the State can do well but that's fine, so be it.