Parents are starving themselves for up to a week to feed their children

From Welfare Weekly: Struggling parents are starving themselves for up to a week so they can afford to feed their children, a foodbank manager has claimed.

Matt Dobson, manager of Bristol Foodbank, says some parents, many of whom are in full-time employment, are arriving at the charity showing symptoms of hunger and starvation such as dizzyness because they’ve hardly eaten for an entire week.

He also claims that some parents are so hungry when visiting the foodbank that they devour the contents of food parcels in front of others and before leaving the center.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly…]

Rail punctuality plunges to 13-year low

From The Guardian: Train punctuality has slumped to a 13-year low after a series of significant issues plagued Britain’s railway in 2018.

One in seven trains (14.6%) missed the industry’s public performance measure (PPM) of punctuality in the 12 months to 8 December, according to Office of Rail and Road figures.

This annual rolling average has not been worse since September 2005. PPM measures whether a train arrives at its final destination within five minutes of the scheduled time, or 10 minutes for a long-distance service.

Over the past 12 months, punctuality has been affected by extreme weather, errors in the launch of new timetables, strikes and signalling failures. Snow and ice crippled parts of the network when the “beast from the east” hit Britain in February and March, while rails buckled during a summer heatwave just three months later.

Passengers in the north and south-east of England endured weeks of chaos when new timetables were introduced on 20 May. Several operators have experienced disruption throughout the year owing to a long-running industrial dispute over guards on trains.

Punctuality has also been affected by infrastructure failures, with London Waterloo services hit by signalling faults.

The cost of many rail season tickets will increase by more than £100 next week as average fares go up 3.1%. There have been calls for prices to be frozen due to the poor performance of the industry.

[Read article on Guardian website…]

Anger as NHS hospitals scrap free parking for the sick and disabled

From Welfare Weekly: Union bosses and the Labour Party has responded angrily to news that hospitals are abolishing free parking for sick patients and people with disabilities.

The Mirror reports that Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust introduced the controversial policy just days before Christmas, with dialysis patients and carers among those will be affected by the cruel decision.

And Nottinghamshire University Hospitals Trust, which the Mirror claims made £3.6million from parking charges last year, are scrapping free parking for Blue Badge holders from January next year (2019).

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly…]

Homeless people’s deaths ‘up 24%’ over five years

From BBC News: Almost 600 homeless people died in England and Wales last year, according to official figures published for the first time.

The figure represents a rise of 24% over five years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

These are the first official estimates of the number of deaths of homeless people, which show 84% of those who died were men.

Charities say the numbers confirm what they are seeing locally.

The ONS figures show that there were 482 deaths among homeless people in 2013, rising to 597 in 2017.

At The Wellspring charity for homeless and disadvantaged people in Stockport, chief executive Jonathan Billings said: “Almost certainly, over the five or six years, it has become much more prevalent that people we are working with are passing away.”

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

Teachers witnessing ‘dickensian’ levels of child poverty

From Welfare Weekly: Teachers have painted a stark picture on the growing levels of child poverty, with many forced to step in to assist struggling parents in the wake of endless austerity measures.

A National Education Union poll of 1,026 teachers in England has exposed the day to day struggles of low-income families, as an estimated 4.5 million school age children are said to be trapped below the poverty line.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly…]

More than 24,000 homeless people will be sleeping rough this Christmas, charity warns

From Welfare Weekly: More than 24,000 people in Britain will spend Christmas sleeping rough, on public transport, or in tents, according to worrying new research from one of the UK’s largest homelessness charities.

The research, commissioned by national homelessness charity Crisis and undertaken by Heriot-Watt University shows that 12,300 people are currently sleeping rough on the street and nearly 12,000 are spending their nights in cars, trains, buses or tents.

The number of people sleeping rough in England is more than double what government statistics suggest. Those are based solely on local authority estimates using local information or a physical count on one given night.

Crisis and Heriot-Watt’s research completes the picture by collating the government figures with other crucial sources of data. These include academic studies, statutory statistics, and data from other support services that record people’s experiences of sleeping rough which aren’t captured in the government’s count.

Shockingly, between 2012 and 2017, the numbers have soared by 120% in England and 63% in Wales. Numbers in Scotland fell by 6% over the same period.

Those sleeping without a roof over their head are constantly exposed to dangers, including extreme temperatures – but also to abuse, with homeless people almost 17 times more likely to be victims of violence and 15 times more likely to be verbally abused compared to the general public, according to previous Crisis research.

A recent poll for the charity by YouGov showed that the majority of Brits (61%) feel angry, upset, or frustrated about the state of homelessness across the country, and feel the government should do more to tackle the crisis.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly website…]

Workers hit by longest pay squeeze in more than 200 years

From Welfare Weekly: Working people in some parts of the UK have been hit by the longest squeeze to the wage packets in more than two centuries, with some earning up to £100 a week less in real-terms compared to 2008, shocking new analysis reveals.

These are the findings of new research by the Trade Union Congress (TUC), who say average take home pay is still well behind pre-crisis levels.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly…]

Nearly 130 public libraries closed across Britain in the last year

From The Guardian: Almost 130 public libraries have closed in the last year in Britain while an extra 3,000 volunteers have been brought in to run remaining services, as the decade’s austerity pressures see local authorities continuing to apply swingeing cuts to budgets.

The annual survey of British libraries by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) has revealed a similar picture each year since 2010, with the number of branches and paid staff falling every year.

Over the last year, spending on libraries by local authorities fell by £30m to £741m. There was a net loss of 127 public libraries in England, Wales and Scotland, while 712 full-time employees lost or left their jobs and volunteer numbers increased by 3,000, to 51,394.

“Community-run” library branches have become the norm in the UK as councils ask volunteers to take the service off their books. In 2010, estimates from Public Libraries News suggest there were only around 10 libraries in the hands of volunteers; by 2017, the figure had risen to around 500. Cipfa calculations show that 10,000 new volunteers have joined Britain’s library service over the last three years, increasing from 41,402 in 2014-15 to 51,394 in 2017-18.

Rob Whiteman, CEO of Cipfa, said libraries were “a canary in the coal mine for what is happening across the local government sector”.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Missing special needs support ‘a national scandal’

From BBC News: Thousands of children missing out on support for diagnosed special educational needs in England is a “national scandal”, Ofsted has said.

There are 2,060 children in 2018 who have education, health and care plans (EHCs) setting out their needs, but who receive no support at all.

Some parents said a child is only assessed when they are excluded.

Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman, also raised the issue of children disappearing from education: “Too often, children who have been assessed still do not receive the services they need.” She uses her annual report to expose what she describes as a “bleak picture” of too many children “failed by the education system”.

The report raises concerns about support for the 1.3 million pupils with special needs.

She says between 2010 and 2017, the number of children with a plan designating their needs, but who received no provision, had increased fivefold.

Last month, representatives of local authorities told MPs of the funding problems they face in their high needs budgets.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

Meet Ben Baddeley: facing a life of pain due to Tory NHS cuts

Amy Rose Baddeley writes… “My son Ben is 14 & sufferers from cerebral palsy. He needs crucial treatment that unfortunately is NOT funded on the NHS due to [Tory] funding cuts, leaving us to pick up medical bills of between £1,000 & £2,000 every month.

“My husband & i are trying everything we can to fundraise, work overtime & find the funds to pay for Ben’s crucial treatment because without it his muscles & nerves can’t develop correctly as he grows leaving him in pain on a daily basis.

[Donate to crowdfunder] [Ben’s Facebook page]

#ToryBritain #ToryNHSCHRISTMAS APPEAL from Amy Rose Baddeley…"My son Ben is 14 & sufferers from cerebral palsy. He…

Posted by Stop The Tories Channel on Sunday, December 2, 2018

Life in austerity-hit Hastings as its MP Amber Rudd dismisses UN report on poverty

From the Daily Mirror: Amber Rudd has been busy dismissing concerns about poverty in the UK and the cruelty of the Universal Credit system. While she addressed the Commons as Work and Pensions Secretary for the first time, the Mirror gave some of her battling constituents the chance to speak up themselves.

[Read article on Mirror website…]

London hospital drops chemotherapy due to nursing shortage

From The Guardian: One of the biggest NHS trusts is to stop providing chemotherapy at one of its hospitals because it has too few specialist cancer nurses to staff the unit.

The Cedar Centre at King George Hospital in Ilford, east London, will cease provision from 12 November because four of its nurses have quit and two others have gone on maternity leave.

It is thought to be the first time the NHS’s widespread staffing problems have led to a specialist cancer unit no longer being able to offer a vital service such as chemotherapy.

More than 500 patients a year received their cancer treatment there, and in future patients will have to go to Queen’s hospital in nearby Romford instead.

Macmillan Cancer Support said the move was “hugely concerning” and a stark example of the “extreme workforce pressure” at NHS cancer services, which are facing rising demand while recruitment and retention of nurses gets harder.

Macmillan and Cancer Research UK have warned in recent years about the growing difficulties NHS cancer services are having in recruiting and retaining staff, which has led to patients facing delays in diagnostic testing and treatment.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

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