Poverty ‘driving people to choose between eating or keeping clean’

In Kind Direct charity warns of ‘hidden crisis’ facing thousands after it distributes £20.2m of hygiene products in one year

Growing numbers of people are facing hygiene poverty, where they are unable to afford essential products such as shampoo and deodorant, and are having to choose between eating and keeping clean, a charity has found.

A report from In Kind Direct says thousands of people are seeking help and describes the issue as a “hidden crisis”. Last year the charity distributed a record £20.2m of hygiene products, a rise of 67% on £12.1m the year before.

Robin Boles, chief executive of In Kind Direct, said: “This is hitting families hard. The fact that last year was our busiest year ever, distributing products to charities and the people they help, highlights the stark choices people are facing.”

The study has prompted campaigners to call for the government to do more to alleviate poverty. They say cuts to working benefits coupled with rising inflation have left families struggling.

Samantha Stapley, operations manager for England at the Trussell Trust food bank network, described the report as “very concerning”. She added: “When people are referred to food banks with no money for food, they’re often struggling to afford other basic essentials too.”

The report shows 82% of 948 charities have seen an increase in demand over the past year from people who cannot afford essential items.

A further poll of 1,000 people, conducted by In Kind Direct, found that 37% of those surveyed, and 56% of 18- to 24-year-olds, have had to go without hygiene or grooming products, or cut down on them, owing to low finances.

Stapley said Trussell Trust research with the University of Oxford had found that more than half of the households visiting the network’s food banks were struggling to afford toiletries.

She added that voluntary organisations alone could not resolve the problem and the underlying causes of poverty needed to be addressed. “Making work more secure, tackling the high cost of living and working to reduce the issues people experience with benefit payments would all make a difference,” she said.

Her words were echoed by Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child PovertyAction Group, who said: “To tackle it we first need to ensure that benefits once again reflect families’ needs and so rise with inflation. No one should have to suffer the indignity of living without basic sanitary products.”

read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/27/poverty-driving-people-to-choose-between-eating-or-keeping-clean-in-kind-direct?

 

Almost 2.5 million children hit by cruel public sector pay cap, says research

More than one million households with children suffering under ‘cruel’ Government pay pinch

Shocking new figures from GMB, the union for public sector workers, show almost 2.5 million children are being hit by the public sector pay cap.

Analysis of the latest ONS figures show an estimated 2.4 million children live in 1.4 million households where at least one adult works in the public sector as their main job.

The average full time public sector workers in the UK has lost out on £9,000 in wages since the pay cap was introduced in 2010 – and stands to lose a further £4,000 by 2020.

During a recent study of police staff by GMB, one member revealed their pay was so low they couldn’t afford to buy their children clothes.

read more here: http://www.thelondoneconomic.com/news/almost-2-5-million-children-hit-cruel-public-sector-pay-cap-says-research/05/07/

‘I was a citizen, now I’m nothing’: disabled readers on life under austerity

Lying on the floor for hours awaiting help, unable to afford both incontinence pants and food … This is the reality of disability cuts for Stephen, Alex and Elli

When Theresa May was challenged by a disabled voter over cuts to her disability benefits and social care last month, it shone a light on the way Conservative policies post-2010 have disproportionately targeted disabled people. Recent years have seen the introduction of many cuts and changes – from the rollout of “fit to work” tests to the abolition of disability living allowance – as well as a lack of action on existing inequalities, such as inaccessible housing. It all amounts to an unprecedented assault on disabled people’s rights and living standards in Britain.

In a series of interviews over several months, the Guardian has followed three disabled readers – Stephen, Alex, and Elli – as they experience the reality of life since austerity.

read their stories here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/30/disabled-readers-austerity-disability-cuts

 

Charities warn high number of young women working in low-paid and insecure jobs having ‘terrible impact’ on their wellbeing

Young women ‘significantly more likely’ to report symptoms of anxiety and depression than young men

Young women are “significantly more likely” to report they are suffering from anxiety or depression than their male counterparts, statistics have revealed, raising concerns that a high number of young women working in low-paid and insecure jobs is leading to a severe decline in mental health.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed worrying levels of mental illness in all young people, with one in five men and women aged 16-24 showing symptoms of anxiety and depression, an increase from 18 per cent in the period 2009 to 2010 to 21 per cent in 2013 to 2014.

Women stood out as being particularly affected, with the proportion of young women reporting anxiety and depression having climbed by four per cent within four years from 22 per cent in 2009 to 2010 to 26 per cent in 2013 to 2014. According to the latest statistics, one in four (25 per cent) young women reported such issues, compared with 15 per cent of young men.

read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/young-women-anxious-depression-mental-health-ons-young-womens-trust-a7683861.html

Eight things you should know about the benefit cap

‘Fairness’ was the word Lord Freud used to justify the lowering of the benefit cap. But there is no fairness to be found in a policy that ignores assessed need, mostly affects people who can’t work to increase their income, and hits households with children in 94 per cent of cases.

Here’s what you need to know about the benefit cap:

  1. The cap breaks the link between what you need and what you get. People are assessed for social security support according to need, but if that help goes above the – arbitrary – level of the benefit cap, it is restricted. In other words, the needier you are, the more likely you’ll be hit by the cap.
  2. When the cap was originally set, the amount (£26,000) was based on the premise that non-working households shouldn’t receive more than the average earnings of working households. But this isn’t comparing like for like: it’s comparing incomes with earnings. A working family on £26,000 could also receive a range of benefits and tax credits.
  3. The new – lower – amount (£20,000, or £23,000 in London) does not have a rationale. And it has come in at a time when the cost of living is going up.
  4. One of the stated aims of the cap is to incentivise people to move into work. But only 13 per cent of people affected by the benefit cap are on Jobseeker’s Allowance – i.e. expected to be actively trying to get a job. The vast majority of people affected by the cap are not expected to work because of disability or ill-health, or because they have very young children.
  5. Ministers claim people capped are 41 per cent more likely to move into work. That sounds big, but actually the effect is relatively small. The government’s own evaluation showed about 16 per cent of people moved into work shortly after being capped and that 11 per cent of people would have moved into work anyway. That difference in rates (4.4 percentage points to be precise) is where the 41 per cent figure comes from. About 75 per cent of people move off JSA after 6 months, 90 per cent by 12 months.
  6. More than 116,000 families will be affected by this new cap – and more than 319,000 children. It’s not just larger families either. Most families affected by the lower cap have two or three children.
  7. The Supreme Court has said that the benefit cap breaches the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that ‘it cannot possibly be in the best interests of the children affected by the cap to deprive them of the means to provide them with adequate food, clothing, warmth and housing, the basic necessities of life’.
  8. The only other way to become uncapped is to move house somewhere cheaper. Yet a family with two young children will not be able to find a cheap enough home in 60 per cent of the country to escape the cap – including the entire southeast and southwest regions.

Families with very young children and people with disabilities – who are most likely to be affected by the cap – ought to be given the strongest possible protection against the deprivation this policy leads to. That would be fair.

read more here: http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/eight-things-you-should-know-about-benefit-cap

Average pay rates fell seven times faster for disabled employees during coalition years

New figures show average pay rates for disabled people fell seven times faster than those for non-disabled people during the five years of the coalition government.

The figures were produced for Being Disabled In Britain, a major review of disability inequality by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

read more here: http://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/average-pay-rates-fell-seven-times-faster-for-disabled-employees-during-coalition-years/

Dickensian-style ‘pauper’s funerals’ have soared since Tories came to power as families can’t afford burial fees

The damning statistics, released under the Freedom of Information Act, were uncovered by Lib Dem MP John Pugh

Soaring numbers of grieving families are being forced to give their loved-ones Dickensian-style ‘pauper’s funerals’ because they cannot afford basic burial costs.

Damning new stats show the number of taxpayer-funded pauper’s funerals has rocketed almost 50% since the Tories came to power.

A pauper’s funeral – now re-branded a ‘Public Health Funeral’ – was seen as the ultimate indignity in Victorian times, funded by the local authority when cash-strapped friends and family could not afford a proper service. The deceased is usually given a simple early-morning service before being cremated or buried in a communal grave.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show a 47% increase in pauper’s funerals between 2011 and 2015, from 1,769 to 2,609.

And the true number will be far higher, as only 200 of the 393 councils nationwide provided data.

Read more here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/dickensian-style-paupers-funerals-soared-10180956