Poorest And Most Vunerable The Hardest Hit

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
Nice start to the day ... one for Carers UK to read and digest ... LIFE AT STREET LEVEL IN POORER AREAS :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... rest-areas

Almost all cuts to social care in England are in the poorest areas.

Study finds biggest cuts to care for families, children and the homeless are in the most economically deprived areas.

Nearly all the austerity-era funding cuts to services supporting poor families have fallen in the most economically-deprived areas of England, potentially trapping them in a “downward spiral” of poverty, according to new research.

Council areas in the north and Midlands, together with a handful of local authorities in London, have shouldered 97% of the reductions in town hall spending on working age social care, looked-after children and homelessness since 2011, the study says.

Despite rising poverty, spending on disadvantaged families in the poorest 20% of English councils – mainly Labour-controlled - reduced by £278m in 2016-17 after successive years of cuts to central government grants.

By contrast the wealthiest 20% of areas, predominantly Tory-controlled and in the south-east, which were less affected by cuts to deprivation grant funding, were spending £55m more on services for poorer families by 2016-17.

“To the extent that there have been cuts in spending on disadvantage, they have happened almost exclusively in the most deprived areas of England,” the study, funded by the Lloyds Bank Foundation charity, concludes.

The foundation said it commissioned the study after several small charities it funds in the north of England reported that they were expected to deliver family and social care support services that their cash-strapped local councils had abandoned because they could no longer afford to fund them.

It warns that planned changes to the distribution of local government funding, which will see a deprivation-based funding model replaced by reliance on local council tax and business rates, will serve to lock in funding cuts in poorer areas unless a safety net is built in.


“Without a change of policy and direction, primarily by central government, some authorities may be trapped in a downward spiral when it comes to spend on disadvantage… The real risk is that the areas and people that face disadvantage are left further behind,” the study adds.

Around £17bn was spent by councils on services for disadvantaged families in 2016-17, amounting to 26% of the £64bn spent on all local authority services in England in that year, the latest for which official data is available.

A striking finding is the extent to which rising homelessness has impacted London councils, which increased spending on housing support by 20% between 2011 and 2016. Other regions cut this budget by up to 59% over the same period. Housing support in the capital has come at the expense of social care, the study says.

Although the most deprived councils tried to maintain spending on adult social care (a 2% cut between 2011 and 2016) and on children’s social care (spending up 5% over the period) this is unlikely to have kept pace with demand as numbers of adults with learning disabilities and looked-after children soared, the study suggests.

Protecting social care in deprived areas came at the expense of youth justice, family support, homelessness, and substance misuse services, which each saw double-digit cuts, demonstrating a big shift in focus away from prevention towards expensive crisis services.

Paul Streets, chief executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation, said: “This research uncovers the quiet crisis that even well-run local authorities are facing up and down the country in trying to fund services for disadvantaged adults and children, a crisis for which the worst may be yet to come.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Local authorities are responsible for their own funding decisions and we have made £200bn available to councils up to 2020 for local services including those for children and young people.

“We are giving them the power to retain the growth in business rates income and are working with local government to develop a funding system for the future based on the needs of different areas.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the research reflected the pressures faced by councils, which were relied on by some of society’s most vulnerable people. It estimates that without an injection of cash there will be an £8bn funding gap in council budgets by 2025.

Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said: “Pressures are growing in children’s services, adult social care and efforts to tackle homelessness. This is leaving increasingly less money for councils to fund other services, like fixing potholes, cleaning streets and running leisure centres and libraries.”


As mentioned on another thread ... Carers UK's own leaflets offering support ... what use are they in such areas wherein such support does NOT exist ... flagrant breaches of the Care Act for starters ?

HOW DO CARERS IN SUCH AREAS EVEN KNOW THAT SUPPORT ACTUALLY EXISTS IF THEY ARE NOT AWARE OF IT ?

Time for a complete rethink ... how to tackle the real problems of caring in 2018 ... in ALL areas.
Hell's Bells....... :pinch:

Perhaps it's time to start a thread on ''how to get as many (nutritious) calories for as little money as possible?''
The main FOOD BANK thread has a couple of articles ... many by academics ... on that very theme.

When looking at some of them ... HEALTHIER EATING variety ... classic mistake !

It assumes that the ingredients needed are cheaper than prepared foods and ... that those caught in the food bank syndrome have the utensils in order to cook said meals.

If on a prepayment meter , the difference between a microwave and an oven can be huge ... even more so if their meter goes through the landlord's one first ... more monies to put towards any bill ... such as keeping the heat on for another 30 minutes or , part pay off rent arrears ?

In addition , in a multi occupancy residence ... with only one kitchen ... time to cook would be severely limited.

For far too many authors , they stumble at the very first hurdle ... by NOT putting themselves on the street to experience real life and problems before writing their article !

Live at street level ... as is ... for millions !
Related and worth posting ... even if the target sector would hardly bother to visit this site as there is nothing , other than my postings , of interest for their predicament ?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... al-schemes

Boot out the bailiffs – they’re a cruel, medieval way of collecting debt.

Councils such as Bristol and Hammersmith and Fulham are committing to ethical schemes. Others must follow.

Megan fell behind with repaying a council tax debt when payments stopped automatically coming out of her income support benefit following her return to work after having a child.

“It almost immediately went to the bailiffs, and it was a really severe situation. It’s a really scary time,” she said. “They would bash the door very loudly, which is very intimidating when you’re a single woman on your own … I hate that they do that to women”.

She set up a payment plan to get them to go away. “But I couldn’t afford it, it was crazy money and I was barely living and there was barely any food,” she adds. “So I had to stop paying. Then they started coming again.”

So Megan turned to payday loans – only to find herself in a predictable but unavoidable trap. Two and a half years later she has only just cleared her original council tax debt, which began at £700 but escalated to more than £1,100. Other debt taken on to pay back the council is still with her.

Megan’s story is just one of the tens of thousands that feature in the mounting pile of reports detailing the very personal impacts of the way local authorities collect taxes. Produced by leading charities and parliamentary committees, they demonstrate how the routine outsourcing of debt collection to private bailiffs pushes people into the hands of payday lenders, dark places and even prison.


Various recommendations call for the government to take action on what should be blindingly obvious reforms; from creating a coherent complaints system to ensuring that the fees that are charged don’t incentivise more aggressive and punitive enforcement.

But, as toothless attempts at reform in 2014 showed, central government cannot be relied upon to introduce fair and effective methods of collecting the taxes cash-starved councils so desperately need.

Which is why local communities need to pressure councillors and mayors to use their powers to put a stop to the medieval practice of sending unaccountable profit-seeking firms to enforce debts that people just can’t pay. These methods add insult to injury when it comes to council tax, a regressive charge that sees the poorest paying disproportionately more than the richest.

Unlike how the blame for government austerity was legitimately deflected by local authorities, Labour-led councils in particular have no excuse not to use their power in this way.

There are signs of hope. Earlier this year the Bristol Cable, the member-owned magazine and media cooperative I work for, launched a campaign to #bootoutbailiffs. We joined forces with a wide range of people, from debt advisors, Methodist preachers, councillors and even former bailiffs.

We published investigations, harrowing personal stories, music videos, street art murals and compelling arguments for alternatives to make the case for debt collection that could help the financial needs of an austerity-battered council in a way that doesn’t further punish poor and working-class people.

The impacts on mental health, children and stress caused by debt and exacerbated by bailiffs are well-documented, but this isn’t just about bleeding hearts. Our investigations in Bristol showed that just 30% of the council tax debts passed to bailiffs are eventually collected.

Meanwhile the debt enforcement firms, including one part-owned by financiers closely linked to major donors to the Conservative party, add £310 in fees to the original debt within seven days of receiving it from the council.

When you consider that councils used bailiffs 1.4 million times to collect council tax in 2016-2017, this is big money, and emblematic of policy failings that promote socially useless and predatory “businesses” that trap people in poverty.

In a neat, but all too rare, example of local democracy in action, Bristol has now become the second local authority, after Hammersmith and Fulham, to commit to piloting an ethical debt collection scheme, pledging to only use bailiffs as an absolute last resort.

This is a major breakthrough for a council that sets bailiffs on citizens on average a thousand times every month. It’s yet to be seen exactly how Bristol council will follow through, but Hammersmith and Fulham has completely stopped using bailiffs to collect council tax following the conclusion of a successful pilot in April. In a joint venture with self-styled ethical debt collectors Intrum, the London borough now emphasises early intervention and tailored affordable payment plans. It is already seeing better collection rates, even on debt that was previously sent back by bailiffs as uncollectible, and written off.

Bristol’s decision was publicly celebrated by the Children’s Society, StepChange Debt Charity, Z2K and the Money Advice Trust, which called for other councils to follow suit.

With the government signalling even more cuts to come in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it’s time for a locally rooted nationwide movement to demand that councils act in the best interests of residents, and boot out bailiffs from our communities for good.


No one wants a knock on the door from uninvited visitors ... LA / DWP ... and especially the baliffs , with powers that few can appreciate.

Debt is growing at a faster rate that the pre 2008 period ... a ticking neutron bomb ... with interest rates still , historically , low.

Only a matter of time before nature demonstates it's destructive force.
This morning's Guardian ... BELOW the poverty line ( Not at or close to ... ) :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... in-poverty

New study finds 4.5 million UK children living in poverty.

New measure by Social Metrics Commission aims to focus political attention on the issue.

More than 14 million people, including 4.5 million children, are living below the breadline, with more than half trapped in poverty for years, according to a new measure aimed at providing the most sophisticated analysis yet of material disadvantage in the UK.

The measure seeks to forge a fresh political consensus between left and right over how to define and track poverty, with the aim of encouraging better-targeted poverty interventions, and making it easier to hold politicians to account.

It finds poverty is especially prevalent in families with at least one disabled person, single-parent families, and households where no one works or that are dependent for income on irregular or zero-hours jobs.

It was developed by the Social Metrics Commission (SMC), an independent body bringing together poverty specialists from across the political spectrum to devise a successor to the child poverty targets abolished as an official measure in 2015.

The SMC’s most significant innovation is to build core living costs such as rent and childcare into its poverty measure. This recognises that even a relatively comfortable income is no guarantee that people can meet basic material needs if it is eaten up by unavoidable weekly outgoings.


It also looks at the depth and severity of disadvantage, concluding that 12% of the total UK population is in “persistent” poverty, meaning that they have spent all or most of the last four years below the breadline. Workless families, and families that contain a disabled person, are most likely to be stuck in poverty.

There are significantly fewer over-65s in hardship compared with previous official poverty measures (11% against 16%), reflecting not just the protection of pension values in recent years, but pensioners’ lower living costs and higher levels of cash savings.

SMC’s analysis of official data finds those in hardship are more likely to have poor health and lack qualifications than those above the poverty line. But family relationships are equally strong either side of the poverty line, and the poor are significantly less likely than their wealthier counterparts to drink to excess or take illegal drugs.

Overall, the total numbers of people in poverty are marginally higher than previous figures – for example, it finds 4.5 million, or about 33%, of children are in poverty as opposed to 4.1 million (30%). But the SMC says numbers are less important than understanding the nature of poverty, and taking action to improve the lives of the poor.

“We want to put poverty at the heart of government policymaking and ensure that the decisions that are made are genuinely made with the long term interests of those in poverty in mind,” the commission’s chair, Philippa Stroud, said.


The findings are likely to result in fresh scrutiny of the impact of austerity and labour market changes over the past few years, particularly the billions of pounds of cuts and freezes to welfare and disability benefits, and the rise of insecure zero-hours work.

The commission hopes the measure will also focus politicians’ attention on tackling rising living costs – such as rent, childcare, and the extra costs of disability – rather than to solely focusing on raising incomes.

The SMC sets the poverty line at 55% of the three-year median of total household resources, as opposed to the previous threshold of 60% of median income. It says poverty is a relative concept best understood as “the extent to which people have the resources to engage adequately in a life regarded as the ‘norm’ in society”.


There was initial scepticism when the SMC was set up over two years ago – not least because Lady Stroud, formerly an adviser to the former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, was regarded as a partisan figure because of her political links. She is chief executive of the Legatum Institute, a rightwing thinktank.

Other members include senior Conservative figure Stephan Shakespeare, who is the founder of polling firm YouGov, and another former Duncan Smith adviser, Stephen Brien, who helped designed universal credit. Alex Burghart, a former adviser to the prime minister, Theresa May, left the commission after being elected as a Tory MP in 2017.

However, the commission includes respected poverty experts from academia, and from organisations such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Royal Statistical Society. The former Liberal Democrat MP David Laws is also a member.

There has been broad acceptance of the SMC’s findings among poverty campaigners, who have been reassured by its rigour and independence. Both the JRF and IFS intend to use the new measure in their regular poverty analyses. The SMC is hopeful the government will adopt it as a formal measure.

The UK as a whole has been left without an official measure of poverty since the Conservative government’s controversial scrapping of Labour’s child poverty targets – although the previous measure was retained in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham welcomed the new measure but said measurement alone would not improve life for struggling families. “What we now need is for government to move on from its denial of the problem, set targets for reducing and eradicating child poverty, and implement policies to support low-income families,” she said.

Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children’s Society, said: “While we would welcome these changes to how poverty is measured being included in official statistics, concrete action is needed to tackle the shameful scale of poverty among our children, with all the damage it can do to their wellbeing, education and life chances.”

The IFS has predicted the number of children living in poverty will soar to a record 5.2 million over the next five years as government welfare cuts bite, more than reversing all the progress made over the past 20 years.

A government spokesperson said: “Measuring poverty is complex, and this report offers further insight into that complexity and the additional measures that can be taken into consideration.”

The spokesperson cited reforms they said were helping people “to progress into work and then progress in work”, as well as £90bn a year spent on working age benefits and £54bn a year on supporting disabled people and those with health conditions.

They added: “Since 2010, this government has seen over 1,000 more people moving into work each and every day, the number of children living in workless households has fallen by over a third, whilst at the same time one million people have been lifted out of absolute poverty, including 300,000 children. We know there is always more to do … we will consider closely the report’s findings in full.”



The number of casaulties in the ongoing social war continue to mount ... no one is spared.

That God ... Austerity ... has a lot to answer for ... as future historians will , no doubt , record.

Work is one path but ... what is the fate of the millions unable to ... senior citizens / less abled / carers / children ... left to rot ?

Same question asked of Carers UK when they welcomed the recent Government proposals to make it " Easier " for some carers to juggle work with caring.

No answer ... as can be expected.
A final headline following on from the last posting ... " The Last Post " playing in the background ?
More than 14m people in UK living in poverty, major report finds.

An extra 2.5 million people are just above the poverty line, meaning relatively small changes could mean they fall below it.


So ... it's goodbye to the " 1 in 4 " after 21 odd years ?

Say hello to the " Club of 14 MILLION " in actual poverty,

Some " Hello " ... perhaps hell hole ( Hell O ) ?

Easier to join the Club than to leave it ???

Becoming one of us a sure fire way !!!
Another article from the Guardian ... AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ... these guys are poverty's answer to Hugh Marriot ( Selfish Pig's Guide To Caring ) and his connection with us :

https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/ ... irit-level

Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson : " Inequality strikes at our health and happiness."

Social injustice has a profound psychological impact – and it’s tearing our society apart, say the authors of The Spirit Level.


Image
New analysis this week showing that 14 million people live in poverty highlights just how unequal a society the UK has become. Poverty is particularly prevalent among disabled people, single parents, unemployed people or those working irregular or zero-hours jobs.

It follows recent research by the OECD showing that social mobility has stagnated, with a child from a poor family in the UK taking five generations on average to earn the average wage, compared to two generations in Denmark, and three in Finland, Norway and Sweden.

It’s hardly surprising, according to Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson. The married academics’ 2009 book, The Spirit Level, on the effects of inequality on societies across the world, sold over 150,000 copies in English alone, and was lauded across the political spectrum.

Nine years on, things have not improved. The Inner Level, their long-awaited follow up published earlier this year, looks at the more personal, individual effects of inequality: how the social effects of the gap between rich and poor impact on people. “We’re talking about how inequality affects our intimate lives, our inner lives; our mental wellbeing, our relationships with friends and family,” Pickett says.

The Inner Level examines a society that has dealt with 10 years of austerity, and seen almost every family impacted by stagnant wages, increased job insecurity, swingeing cuts and changes to the benefits system and public services nationally and locally, as well as a surge in problems with mental health across society. “It takes a whole argument and evidence about the effects of inequality to a deeper and more intimate level.

In The Spirit Level we were dealing with things about society ‘out there’ – the size of the prison population, homicide rates, obesity rates and so on. But this takes it into the sphere of our social fears and anxieties,” Wilkinson says. “Worries about self worth: all the things that make social contact sometimes seem rather awkward and stressful. Your fears about self presentation and so on are all exacerbated by inequality.”

The problems scrutinised in the book – self doubt, social anxiety, stress, and fear of how we are seen by others – have an impact on day-to-day emotions for individuals, but also a wider impact on relationships, our ability to build functioning communities, and the health and wellbeing of entire populations. These issues are massively exacerbated by inequality, and a belief in meritocracy means that any failure is deemed a personal failure, the book argues. “The reality is that inequality causes real suffering, regardless of how we choose to label such distress. Greater inequality heightens social threat and status anxiety, evoking feelings of shame which feed into our instincts for withdrawal, submission and subordination: when the social pyramid gets higher and steeper and status insecurity increases, there are widespread psychological costs.”

The stress of poverty also influences the cognitive development of babies and children. Measuring the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in infants found that poverty, and the amount of time spent in poverty, can hamper the mental development of children. Pickett and Wilkinson find that “family income is a more powerful determinant of cognitive development than being brought up by single parents, or maternal depression”, and that if children are enrolled in support services like Sure Start and their equivalents in other countries, some of the effects of poverty are offset, and children’s educational and psychological performance improves.
New study finds 4.5 million UK children living in poverty
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The social demarcations of class, from what we eat and how we talk, to what culture we consume, are also rigorously upheld in more unequal societies, making discrimination much easier and preventing social mobility. In more unequal societies, the book finds, fewer people marry someone of a different class background, the number of visits to art galleries and museums is lower, the prison population is higher and the age of criminal responsibility for children is lower.

Wilkinson and Pickett cite extensive statistical evidence that unequal societies are responsible for less fulfilling personal lives, and in turn harm public health, scupper educational progress, increase crime and lower life expectancy. “We debunk some of the myths that people use to explain why [society] is willing to tolerate greater levels of inequality, namely that inequality is a natural result of our human nature, that we are competitive, individualistic and out for ourselves – that’s the way we are, it’s just human nature and nothing can be done about it,” Pickett says. “That is not the case. We also provide evidence to counter the argument that actually we’re living in a meritocracy, and that inequality is simply a case of the capable and talented moving up, and those who are less capable, less clever, moving down.”

Many of the problems in our increasingly polarised society are down to social inequity and are not natural, they argue. “Inequality itself creates these differences,”

Pickett says. “Increased social anxieties and worries about how we are seen damage social life and lead actually to more violence. The worst affected withdraw from life entirely, and even among the rest of the population who don’t feel it so acutely, we all feel it a bit,” Wilkinson warns. “Thatwhile Wilkinson warns that inequality “diminishes social life. What we value most is laughing, joking, relaxing and spending time with friends and family. That is essential to health and happiness – and yet it’s there that inequality strikes.”

If the pair were given power tomorrow, they already have a few policy priorities. “I’d ban private education to put a brake on intergenerational unfairness, in line with Finland. But I’d also institute an exceptionally large inheritance tax,” Pickett says.
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Wilkinson concurs, but adds: “I think we have to extend democracy into the economy, and hugely inflated salaries have to be stopped. We should have employee representation on company boards, and incentives to grow cooperatives and employee-owned companies. That whole sector has to grow.”


Let that excellent article speak for iteslf !

And 15 million others out there !!!