Benefit cap arrears and eviction threats for women and children. Already.

From Kate Belgrave’s blog:

Another short post on impossible situations:

Here’s a rent arrears demand recently received by a woman who lives in a Basildon flat with her three young children (the arrears have increased since she received this letter).

It appears these arrears have come about because of the recently-lowered benefit cap.

This woman’s benefits exceeded the Out of Greater London limit of £384.62 by about £100 a week. As a result, at the end of last year, her housing benefit was cut by about £100 a week from about £188 a week to to £87 a week (think the sums are correct, looking at the paperwork. Give me a shout if you think the totals need looking at. Maths problems with these things are not at all uncommon).

Basildon council recently gave this woman a discretionary housing payment of £20 a week to cover some of the rent shortfall. That helps a bit, but only a bit. She only gets the DHP for the short term, too. After that, she either finds the full whack each week, or moves house again (this time with a serious arrears history) and takes the kids out of school again (she was recently in temporary accommodation in another borough)… or she ultimately gets evicted, I guess:

read more here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/02/benefit-cap-arrears-and-eviction-threats-for-women-and-children-already/

New analysis links 30,000 excess deaths in 2015 to cuts in health and social care

From the Royal Society of Medicine

Researchers exploring why there has been a substantial increase in mortality in England and Wales in 2015 conclude that failures in the health and social care system linked to disinvestment are likely to be the main cause.

There were 30,000 excess deaths in 2015, representing the largest increase in deaths in the post-war period. The excess deaths, which included a large spike in January that year, were largely in the older population who are most dependent on health and social care.

Reporting their analysis in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, tested four possible explanations for the January 2015 spike in mortality.

After ruling out data errors, cold weather and flu as main causes for the spike, the researchers found that NHS performance data revealed clear evidence of health system failures. Almost all targets were missed including ambulance call-out times and A&E waiting times, despite unexceptional A&E attendances compared to the same month in previous years. Staff absence rates rose and more posts remained empty as staff had not been appointed.

Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “The impact of cuts resulting from the imposition of austerity on the NHS has been profound. Expenditure has failed to keep pace with demand and the situation has been exacerbated by dramatic reductions in the welfare budget of £16.7 billion and in social care spending.”

He added: “With an aging population, the NHS is ever more dependent on a well-functioning social care system. Yet social care has also faced severe cuts, with a 17% decrease in spending for older people since 2009, while the number of people aged 85 years and over has increased by 9%.”

“To maintain current levels of social care would require an extra £1.1 billion, which the government has refused.”

Professor McKee continued: “The possibility that the cuts to health and social care are implicated in almost 30,000 excess deaths is one that needs further exploration. Given the relentless nature of the cuts, and potential link to rising mortality, we ask why is the search for a cause not being pursued with more urgency?”

“Simply reorganising and consolidating existing urgent care systems or raising the ‘agility’ of the current A&E workforce capacity is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the challenges that high levels of admissions of frail elderly people and others who are vulnerable are likely to present this winter and in future winters.”

The researchers say that there are already worrying signs of an increase in mortality in 2016. Without urgent intervention, they say, there must be concern that this trend will continue.

Commenting on the analysis, Professor Danny Dorling, University of Oxford, added: “It may sound obvious that more elderly people will have died earlier as a result of government cut backs, but to date the number of deaths has not been estimated and the government have not admitted responsibility.”

read more here: https://www.rsm.ac.uk/about-us/media-information/2017-media-releases/new-analysis-links-30000-excess-deaths-in-2015-to-cuts-in-health-and-social-care.aspx

Landlords refuse to take on new Universal Credit claimants in Great Yarmouth

Landlords are refusing to take on tenants who are in the process of claiming for benefits.

At a meeting of the Great Yarmouth branch of the Eastern Landlords Association last month, members said they would not take on new tenants in the process of making a claim for Universal Credit.

Chairman of the association, Paul Cunningham, said some claimants were waiting ten to 12 weeks for their first payment, forcing them to go into arrears. He also said there have been a number of evictions solely down to Universal Credit issues.

He added: “The introduction of Universal Credit in Great Yarmouth last April has proved to be disastrous with landlords now refusing to take any such claimants and evictions rising due to arrears caused by the system.”

Housing benefit used to be paid directly to landlords by the local authority.

However under the changes it is now up to claimants to pay their rent to their landlords.

During the roll out of Universal Credit there have been issues that the claims process has caused long delays for some people.

Mr Cunningham added: “Only if the claim process is radically altered will this situation change. Housing benefit tenants were always accepted because the council managed the claim and would liaise with landlords, now that the process is managed by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), they refuse to communicate with the landlords even after being told the tenant is in danger of eviction.”

Some landlords have been forced to evict tenants and in the most extreme cases meaning some people have been made homeless.

read more here: http://www.greatyarmouthmercury.co.uk/news/landlords_refuse_to_take_on_new_universal_credit_claimants_in_great_yarmouth_1_4891290

19 million Brits are on the edge of poverty even though nearly everyone has a job — and it’s going to get worse

LONDON — New research shows that millions more people in Britain are struggling to make ends meet since the financial crisis and predicts that the situation could drastically worsen over the next few years as inflation spikes.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation released on Wednesday found that:

  • 30% of the population, 19 million people, are now below the “minimum income standard” [MIS].
  • The number below MIS has risen by 4 million since 2008/9, or a 5 percentage point rise;
  • 11 million people have incomes below 75% of MIS and are at high risk of poverty;
  • 8 million people are just about managing to get by.

MIS is an income benchmark calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University. It is based on extensive surveys of people in the UK, asking them what they believe is a reasonable income.

MIS in 2016 for a single person of working age was £286.53 per week before bills, equivalent to £14,899 a year. For couples, it was £353.21 a week, or £18,366 a year. For a couple with two children, it was £776.28 a week, or £40,366 a year.

These are relatively modest budgets. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found last year that the average income for a childless couple in the UK was £581 in 2014-15, or £30,212. That is over £10,000 more than they need under the MIS system.

The fact that so many people in the UK fall short of this relatively low threshold is alarming.

It also comes at a time when the UK is experiencing record low unemployment levels. New data released on Wednesday shows that Britain’s unemployment level remains at 4.8%, a 10-year low. Just 1.6 million people are officially unemployed.

Families with children have the highest risk of incomes that fall short of the standard, according to the report. More than half of families with children and just one parent in work are below the MIS — 56%.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a social policy and development charity, says the rising risk of poverty is due to sluggish income growth rather than any increase in unemployment.

The charity says: “The price of a minimum “basket of goods” has risen 27-30% since 2008, and average earnings by only half that amount.”

Britain’s employment market has seen the rise of the so-called “gig economy” since the 2008 financial crisis, with more and more people doing low-paid, self-employed jobs such as driving Ubers or delivering food for Deliveroo. Trade union TUC estimated this week that the irregular hours and lower earnings of these types of workers means the government is missing out on £4 billion of tax revenue a year. This means these workers are missing out on pay too.

The Trussel Trust, a charity runs the UK’s only national network of food banks, said last April that food bank usage was at a record high of 1.1 million. Almost half a million emergency food supplies were given to children.

The Rowntree Foundation’s report is supported by Office for National Statistics data, which last year found that 33% of people were in poverty at least once between 2010-13 compared to an EU average of 25%.

read more: http://uk.businessinsider.com/theresa-mays-jams-joseph-rowntree-foundation-finds-4-million-people-just-above-poverty-line-2017-2

 

How the vulnerable get get ‘managed’ off hospital waiting lists

…..Cutting services completely always generates unfavourable headlines, whereas merely making them a little harder to get at is less dramatic

And it doesn’t even have to involve a monetary transaction: there are plenty of more subtle ways to stop those inconvenient patients turning up demanding care. But the trouble is, the people we discourage are not the frivolous, the ‘worried well’, the over-entitled: more often than not, they’re the people who need our care most of all…..

read more from this hospital doctor here: https://www.bma.org.uk/connecting-doctors/b/work/posts/how-the-poor-get-managed-off-waiting-list

A third of UK lives on inadequate income, says think tank

Nearly a third of the population of Britain is living on an “inadequate” income, according to research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

In 2014-15, it said that 19 million people were living on less than the Minimum Income Standard (MIS).

It said the problem was that household costs have been rising, while incomes have stagnated.

The government has already promised to tackle the issue, after Theresa May identified those “just about managing”.

It said it was taking “targeted action” to raise incomes.

The MIS is set by experts at Loughborough University, and is based on what members of the public think is a reasonable income to live on.

Although the precise level depends on individual circumstances, a single person renting a flat outside London is said to need to earn at least £17,300 a year to reach the MIS.

For a working couple with two children, living in social housing, each of the individuals needs to earn £18,900 a year.

In other words a couple could be earning £37,000 jointly, and still count as being below the MIS threshold.

Poverty

Among the 19 million said to be below the MIS are six million children, representing 45% of all children in Britain.

There are also 1.8 million pensioners, representing 14.6% of the age group.

read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38970227

1.2 million UK people aged 65 and over do not receive the care and support they need

Age UK report calls for urgent action, including cash injection in spring budget and development of long-term plan The government has urged people to care for their ageing parents, to compensate for any social care inefficiencies. Photograph: Tomas Rodriguez/Getty Images/Picture Press RM Social care in England is at risk of imminent collapse in the worst […]

via English social care system for elderly facing ‘complete collapse’ : Guardian. — DWPExamination.