Huge number of parents with disabled children are suffering mental health problems

Parents of disabled children in Yorkshire and the Humber believe health and social care services are at breaking point, with confidence at an all-time low.

That is the shocking conclusion of a survey commissioned by the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), a coalition of more than 50 charities, which also found that nearly three-quarters of parents of disabled children have experienced mental health issues as a result of continued strain, far higher than the 1 in 6 who report an issue in the general population.

At the root of the issue is the overwhelming lack of health and social care support families receive, with two-thirds worrying daily about being able to meet their disabled child’s needs and 4 in 5 parents having issues accessing vital care services.

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Number of homeless children in temporary accommodation rises 37%

Councils across England are providing temporary housing for around 120,540 children with their families – a net increase of 32,650

Councils across England are housing the equivalent of an extra secondary school of pupils per month as the number of homeless children in temporary accommodation soars, according to local government leaders.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils are providing temporary housing for around 120,540 children with their families – a net increase of 32,650 or 37% since the second quarter of 2014.

It said the increase equates to an average of 906 extra children every month.

The LGA said placements in temporary accommodation can present serious challenges for families, from parents’ employment and health to children’s ability to focus on school studies and form friendships. The LGA, which represents 350 councils across England, said the extra demand is increasing the pressure on local government.

It said councils need to be able to build more “genuinely affordable” homes and provide the support that reduces the risk of homelessness. This means councils being able to borrow to build and to keep 100% of the receipts of any home they sell to reinvest in new and existing housing, the LGA said.

Council leaders are also calling for access to funding to provide settled accommodation for families that become homeless.

Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman, said: “When councils are having to house the equivalent of an extra secondary school’s worth of pupils every month, and the net cost for councils of funding for temporary accommodation has tripled in the last three years, it’s clear the current situation is unsustainable for councils, and disruptive for families.

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Need a wheelchair? Pay for it yourself

A fourfold increase in the number of disabled people forced to use a crowdfunding site to buy their wheelchair undermines a basic tenet of the NHS, campaigners say

“I feel like a prisoner who every now and again is let out on day release,” Kelly Palmer, 38, says from her home in Newport, south Wales.

Palmer has Marfan Syndrome – a genetic condition that affects ligaments and organs – as well as fibromyalgia and needs a power wheelchair full-time. But when she approached her GP to apply for a chair after her health deteriorated, she was told she wasn’t eligible. Even though her disability means she can’t propel a manual wheelchair, she didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for a power chair. “There was no help,” she says. “It was just ‘goodbye’.”

As there’s no one else at home to help, for the last 18 months Palmer is largely stuck in the house and she only goes out once every three weeks or so, usually for hospital appointments and only if a friend can drive her there and stay to push the to try and raise the £5,000 she needs for a suitable power chair. She got the idea from some friends who had done the same to raise money for their own wheelchairs but says pride means she’s been “putting it off” as a last resort. “I didn’t want to have to beg,” she says. “But I didn’t have the choice.”

Desperate, Palmer has turned to the internet and launched a crowdfunding appeal online to try and raise the £5,000 she needs for a suitable power chair. She got the idea from some friends who had done the same to raise money for their own wheelchairs but says pride means she’s been “putting it off” as a last resort. “I didn’t want to have to beg,” she says. “But I didn’t have the choice.”

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Terminally-ill cancer patients among hundreds appealing PIP decisions

A Suffolk MP has pledged to take up disability benefit problems with ministers after this newspaper revealed how hundreds of disabled people in the region had been wrongly stripped of money.

Cancer charity Macmillan said even terminally-ill people in Suffolk had been forced to go before tribunals to get the benefit called Personal Independence Payments (PIP) back.

As reported yesterday, around two thirds of claimants who appeal decisions to take away their PIP in Norfolk and Suffolk are successful. PIP was introduced by the Government in 2013 to replace Disability Living Allowance and cut the welfare bill.

But claimants said the PIP assessments, where they are given points to decide whether or not they qualify for the benefit of up to £141 a week, causes stress and frustration.

Macmillan’s benefits manager for Suffolk, Cathy Cunningham Elliot, said it was vital cancer patients had timely access to financial help.

Peter Aldous, Conservative MP for Waveney, said he would be taking up PIP problems with Government ministers.

“In the past four to five months there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have come to see us who have failed PIP assessments and they shouldn’t have failed to my mind,” he said. “The fact they are ultimately successful in appeals would indicate the assessments which are currently taking place need to be reviewed. That is a point I’m making to the Government.”

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Dozens of leading charities face insolvency after Government demands back pay for night-time carers

Vulnerable people could lose ‘vital care’ after HMRC demands £400m bill, warn charity chiefs

Dozens of leading charities could face insolvency within weeks after the Government ruled they must pay millions of pounds in back payments to overnight carers. Around 200 disability charities, including Mencap, are said to face a bill of around £400m in back payments after new guidance was issued stating overnight carers must be paid the national minimum wage (NMW) for all hours.

Vulnerable people with learning difficulties face losing “vital” care as a result of the bills, charities have warned, with around 5,500 supported by Mencap alone set to be “majorly impacted”, while some may end up losing that support all together.

Under guidance issued by the Government in 1999, when the minimum wage was introduced, disability charities, which sent a carer overnight to look after someone with learning difficulties, were required to pay a flat rate “on call” allowance of £25 or £35 to cover the period when they were asleep.

But, following two tribunal cases in 2015 and last year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) changed the guidance in October to state that these organisations must now pay the minimum wage throughout the shift, meaning overnight carers would earn £60 for eight hours of sleep.

Mencap and other charities and companies are now warning that they cannot afford the huge and unexpected additional sums being demanded by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), even though they believe their staff should get the higher pay levels demanded by the business department.

Derek Lewis, chairman of the Royal Mencap Society, said “sleep-ins”, which are widely used in the sector, rarely see the carer disturbed during the night, citing research showing that 99.7 per cent of them slept peacefully.

“Sleep-ins are widely used in the learning disability sector to provide care for some of our most vulnerable adults, in their own homes in the communities they live in,” he said.

“The carer is only there ‘just in case’ to provide safety and reassurance and is rarely disturbed. Recent research which looked at the last three years showed that 99.7 per cent of carers slept peacefully.

“The unintended consequences have been disastrous as HMRC have begun enforcement action demanding six years’ back pay. Estimates of the costs to the Learning Disability sector are in the region of £400m and Royal Mencap Society will be severely affected.”

McDonnell calls for disabled-led solution to care crisis, as DPAC occupies parliament

Labour’s shadow chancellor has called for disabled people themselves to be given the job of designing the solution to the social care funding crisis.

John McDonnell was speaking to Disability News Service (DNS) as activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were protesting about cuts to social care, in parliament’s central lobby yesterday (Wednesday).

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For the third time since 2010, the government is planning to sell off NHS Professionals, the NHS in-house temporary staffing agency.

The most foolish NHS privatisation yet?

If private staffing agency fees are damaging the NHS so much, why on earth does the government keep trying to privatise the in-house agency set up to help the NHS avoid the problem?

For the third time since 2010, the government is planning to sell off NHS Professionals, the NHS in-house temporary staffing agency. This is the latest in a long series of gradual and covert moves to privatise our NHS. The obscurity in the privatisation process is no surprise. 84% of us want a publicly owned NHS. Those who want to place it in private hands know they can’t do so transparently.

Plans for the sale of NHS Professionals in 2010 and 2014 were shelved. This time around, the government’s schedule has been disrupted by the election, and now Eleanor Smith, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, has tabled an Early Day Motion (number 152) for concerned MPs to sign, calling on the government to halt the sell-off, co sponsored by the SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford MP and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP.

Lucas has also tabled written questions to the Department of Health in an effort to find out more information about the sale process. Through parliamentary pressure and a wider campaign by We Own It, this move to privatise yet another part of the NHS can be stopped.

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