Thousands of HIV patients go hungry as benefit cuts hit

Thousands of people with HIV have been left struggling in poverty by the Government’s welfare reforms – with some unable to afford the basic food they need to fight their condition.

 

The situation is now so critical that in some cases doctors are having to prescribe food supplements to ensure that patients’ medication works, The Independent on Sunday has learned.

A national hardship fund for people with HIV/Aids, run by the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), registered a 63 per cent increase last year in those needing emergency help because their benefits had been stopped.

HIV experts described the situation as “truly alarming”, saying it was “nothing short of a disgrace” that seriously ill patients in modern Britain were having their treatments compromised by hunger. HIV medication can be less effective if taken without food.

Changes to sickness benefits introduced by the coalition – alongside other welfare reforms such as the so-called bedroom tax – have left many HIV patients significantly worse off.

Read the rest of this article by Emily Duggan in the Independent on Sunday here: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/exclusive-thousands-of-hiv-patients-go-hungry-as-benefit-cuts-hit-9146888.htm

‘Public health emergency’ declared as one in six GPs was asked to refer a patient to food banks in the last year

One in six family doctors has been asked to refer a patient to a food bank in the past year, a new survey has found, with GPs reporting that benefits delays are leaving people without money for food for weeks on end.

There are even rare reported cases of people visiting their GP with “sicknesses caused by not eating”, the leading food bank charity said.

Rising food poverty in the UK – driven by a combination of rising prices, stagnant wages, and reforms to welfare – has been described as an emerging “public health emergency” by academics and evidence from GP surgeries is matched by hospital diagnoses of malnutrition, which have nearly doubled in the past five years.

In a survey of 522 GPs, the magazine Pulse found that 16 per cent had been asked to refer a patient to food bank in the past 12 months. Many GP practices now hold vouchers for their local food bank while others are linked with local social support services to whom they refer patients who say they cannot afford to eat.

Dr Simon Abrams, a GP in Everton, said that his practice had supplied letters for patients to take to food banks in the most urgent cases. He said benefit delays, often stemming from difficulties in satisfying fit-for-work assessment, were making life “extremely difficult for people” in the area, and that colleagues from other practices had reported a similar growth in patients struggling to pay for food.

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/public-health-emergency-declared-as-one-in-six-gps-was-asked-to-refer-a-patient-to-food-banks-in-the-last-year-9136824.html

“Several of my patients have told me that they’ve gone for several weeks with no money coming in, and have gone to food banks or have borrowed from people,” he told The Independent.

“One patient said he went to a food bank and received a very good provision which was more than he would normally have. The food banks are very well organised and clearly well supplied – and the need is much greater than ever before.”

Demand for food banks has soared in the past three to four years. More than 700,000 emergency food parcels, which contain three days provision for an individual or their family, were handed out in 2013 by food banks managed by the leading charity The Trussell Trust. Other charities provide food but do not collect data to the same extent, so the problem may well be greater than figures suggest.

A Scottish government report has identified “welfare reform, benefit delays, benefit sanctions and falling incomes” as the main drivers of demand. However, ministers in the UK government do not accept that changes to people’s benefits has increased the need for emergency food. The UK government’s own report on food banks has still not been published several months after it was completed, amid accusations that ministers have “suppressed” the findings.

Chris Mould, the chief executive of the Trust, said that, while GP referrals were not one of most common routes for people using food banks, instances where it was happening were of particular concern.

“GPs should have the ability to refer to a food bank when they come across a patient who they believe needs a food bank for health reasons, especially as levels of malnutrition are reported to be increasing,” he said. “Some GPs are contacting food banks to ask them to help people visiting their surgeries who are suffering various sicknesses caused by not eating.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said there was no “robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks”.

“In fact, our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with the Universal Credit making three million households better off – the majority of these from the bottom two fifths of the income scale,” the spokesperson said.

David Cameron to be reported to United Nations over bedroom tax and benefit cuts

Liverpool Council says the PM’s government could be breaking international laws on ensuring people are kept out of poverty

Liverpool Council is reporting David Cameron to the United Nations, claiming that his government could be breaking international rules on keeping people out of poverty.

Authority bosses believe the coalition – through its controversial policies such as the hated bedroom tax and welfare reform – could be in breach of the UN economic and social rights convention that sets out minimum standards for access to food, clothing and housing.

Labour members from all parts of the city have spoken of the evidence they have gathered of people who were being forced into degrading poverty because they were being denied access to benefits they desperately needed.

Many are ending up having to resort to what they said was effectively “begging” for food at food banks, the Liverpool Echo reports.

At a meeting this week, councillors heard stories of people stripped of their dole money for up to 16 weeks because they had been late for interviews or had failed to meet the criteria of the government’s Welfare to Work programme.

And they heard claims that in some job centres in the city, suspensions of benefits and other sanctions had risen by up to 500% since 2012.

But the government has hailed the removal of benefits from people who “aren’t pulling their weight” as evidence that the “something for nothing” culture was being tackled.

Cabinet member for children’s services in Liverpool Cllr Jane Corbett, who brought forward a motion along with Croxteth Cllr Barry Kushner, said: “We were elected to represent the people of Liverpool and speak up for them, fight for justice for them to make sure their voices are heard.”

In a rare moment of cross-party unity, Lib Dem Cllr Pat Moloney said: “It is the moral purpose of government to protect its citizens … and to keep them out of hunger and worse.

Parliament votes for a public enquiry on the effects of welfare reforms: it wasn’t reported and the government is ignoring it.

On Monday, something happened in the House of Commons that should cause electors to wonder what parliament is for. The motion before the house was that “a commission of inquiry be established to investigate the impact of the government’s welfare reforms on the incidence of poverty”. At the vote the government was defeated by 125 votes to two. The result: nothing at all – it wasn’t reported and the government is ignoring it.

Read the rest of this article by Michael Meacher MP here: http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2014/01/what-is-the-point-of-parliament/

Grandad shoots himself after finding out his benefits were being stopped

Shaun Pilkington, 58, was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness
A grandad who had just found out his benefits were being stopped shot himself dead – after telling friends he was “unable to cope”.

Shaun Pilkington, 58, was sent a letter saying he was to lose his ­Employment and Support ­Allowance, which he got after a long-term illness. He was told he would have to be reassessed and needed to prove he was eligible. But as the hearing approached, friends said Shaun, a licensed gamekeeper, became discouraged.

Days later he called police and said he was about to kill himself. They found him dead at his flat.

A neighbour said: “There were armed police everywhere. Sadly he’d gone through with his threat. It is a tragedy. He was upset because he got a letter saying his ESA was being stopped. He was pretty down about it and said he was finding it hard to cope with the decision. He was a lovely man. It is not fair what the Government is doing.”

Well-wishers left floral tributes and cans of Stella outside Shaun’s home in Beighton, Sheffield.

The neighbour added: “It all got on top of him – having no money for Christmas and being warned he’d lose his benefits. It’s wrong what they’re doing, targeting people on benefits. We haven’t got a lot of money but the Government seems intent on cutting it.”

Registered gun-keeper Shaun was divorced and had two grown-up children and a two-month-old grandson.

Another neighbour, Shani Hird, said yesterday: “We have lost a dear neighbour who shot himself due to his money being stopped. His appeal was due next week but he felt he could not carry on. This is so sad. This isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last. I think it is terrible the Government’s benefit cuts are causing vulnerable people so much pain and misery.”

Police yesterday confirmed there were no suspicious circumstances.

Shaun’s estranged family was too upset to talk. He joins a growing list of people who have taken their lives since the Tory-led Coalition employed private firm Atos to reassess thousands of people on long-term benefits.

Blind Tim Salter, 53, of Kinver, Staffordshire, died after being deemed fit to work. A coroner ruled the move to axe his benefit had contributed to his suicide.

Edward Jacques, 47, of Sneinton, Nottingham, took a fatal overdose after his benefit payments were stopped.

Jobless Richard ­Sanderson, 44, of ­Southfields, south-west London, stabbed himself in the heart. Unemployed electrician Lee Robinson, 39, of Crawley, Sussex, also took his own life.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details.

Thousands of unexplained and unexpected deaths among elderly revealed in leaked Government analysis

 

A leaked report has revealed that thousands more elderly people died in the past year than the Government had expected, particularly in poorer areas of the country.

 

Labour called for an “urgent investigation” into the findings, and said the Coalition needs to “be honest” about whether cuts to social care budgets over the past three years have contributed to the spike in mortality rates.

The increase in deaths has been most striking amongst women aged 85 and over, and that rise is the driving force behind alarming statistics which suggest around 600 more people than expected are dying every week, the analysis revealed.

The document, made public by the Health Service Journal, reveals that number-crunchers at Public Health England have been “tracking the mortality summaries to determine if last year’s unwelcome increase in mortality in older age may be continuing.”

The report found that there has been, “if anything, a further deterioration in mortality”.

In a letter to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt, seen by The Independent, Mr Burnham has called for an “urgent” investigation into the figures.

Official projections estimated there would be around 455,000 deaths in England between the summers of 2012 and 2013. The actual number was almost 25,000 greater than that, an increase of around 5 per cent on top of Office of National Statistics expectations.

The research also broke down the numbers to look specifically at the so-called “Spearhead authorities” – the areas of the country which fare poorest for life expectancy and mortality rates.

It noted that: “Worryingly, female 75-and-over mortality trends appear to have been worse in the Spearhead areas.” There was even a clearly-observable tailing-off of life expectancy in these areas.

Read the rest of this article by Charlie Cooper in the Independent here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/thousands-of-unexplained-and-unexpected-deaths-among-elderly-revealed-in-leaked-government-analysis-8731985.html

Second Suicide Linked To Welfare Reform Reported This Week: RIP Victor Cuff

the void

atos-paralympic-protestAnother tragic suicide has been reported which appears to be linked to the brutal Work Capability Assessments used to strip people of benefits by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

According to South East London newspaper, the News Shopper, Victor Cuff, aged 59, hung himself in May after his sickness benefits were cut.  The newspaper reports that Mr Cuff had previously had suffered from depression and an inquest into his death heard that he had been “feeling down” and was having money problems after his sickness benefits were reduced.

This is the second suicide linked to withdrawal of sickness benefits which has been reported in just one week. On Monday the Bristol Post featured the story of Jacqueline Harris who took her own life after being found ‘fit for work’ resulting in her benefits being slashed.

Anyone who claims these suicides are not linked to welfare reforms has probably…

View original post 362 more words