A Defra-commissioned report into the growth of food aid has been delayed. Could it be that it links welfare reform with the explosion in food banks?
The longer that Defra sits on the research it commissioned into the rise in emergency food aid in the UK - essentially, explaining why there has been an explosion in food banks - the more we will wonder what it has to hide.
My guess as to why it is being kept under wraps? To spare Lord Freud's blushes.
The Sunday Times reported last week that the report was being "suppressed." It speculated that the mysteriously parked report (which was ordered in February and delivered in early summer) was "understood to show a surge in food-bank use."
Well, that's not news. The surge in food bank use was why the report was commissioned in the first place. We know from data collected by the Trussell Trust and Church Action on Poverty that the surge has been building for at least two years, accelerating in April when many of the welfare reforms came in.
Even ministers accept that more and more people use food banks. So that can't be the reason why the report is deemed so politically sensitive. The government is dragging its feet over the report's publication, I suspect, because it establishes a clear link between welfare reform and the rise in the number of people using food banks.
That will not go down well at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which, as it has an interest in the research, will have been asked by Defra to comment on it. According to some accounts, DWP is uncomfortable with the report. Why? Because DWP ministers have invested a lot of political capital in denying the existence of a link between welfare and the growth in food banks.