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…]

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…]

Life expectancy set to drop for the poorest

From the Morning Star: Stagnating wages and government spending cuts have led to the gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest in the England to widen, according to new research published yesterday.

Life expectancy for the country’s poorest women has fallen by three months since 2011, it says.

Researchers at Imperial College London analysed Office for National Statistics data on all 7.65 million deaths recorded in England between 2001 and 2016.

They found the life expectancy gap between people living in the most affluent and most deprived areas increased from 6.1 years to 7.9 years for women and from 9.0 to 9.8 years in men between 2001 and 2016.

Senior author Professor Majid Ezzati said: “We currently have a perfect storm of factors that can impact on health and that are leading to poor people dying younger.
“The funding squeeze for health and cuts to local government services since 2010 have also had a significant impact on the most deprived communities, leading to treatable diseases such as cancer being diagnosed too late or people dying sooner from conditions like dementia.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

At least 320,000 homeless people in Britain, says Shelter

From The Guardian: At least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain, according to research by the housing charity Shelter.

This amounts to a year-on-year increase of 13,000, a 4% rise, despite government pledges to tackle the crisis. The estimate suggests that nationally one in 200 people are homeless.

Shelter says its figures, which include rough sleepers and people in temporary accommodation, are likely to be an underestimate of the problem as they do not capture people who experience “hidden” homelessness, such as sofa-surfers, and others living insecurely in sheds or cars, for example.

Newham in east London is ranked as England’s number one homelessness hotspot, with at least one in every 24 people in housing insecurity. More than 14,500 people were in temporary accommodation in the borough, and 76 were sleeping rough. In the capital as a whole, 170,000 people – equivalent to one in 52 – have no home.

Outside the capital, high homelessness rates were recorded in Birmingham, Luton, Brighton & Hove, Slough, Dartford, Milton Keynes, Harlow, Watford, Epsom, Reading, Broxbourne, Basildon, Peterborough and Coventry.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

A squeeze on Housing Benefit is driving more people into homelessness, says new report

From HuffPost UK: Tory welfare cutbacks are to blame for the decade-long increase in homelessness from private rented housing, new research says.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, introduced in 2008 to calculate housing benefit for poor households, increasingly leave tenants short of the actual rent, according to a report by Manchester Metropolitan University.

Homelessness rates have more than doubled since 2010, when LHA was cut to cover the bottom 30% of the market and later frozen altogether.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

United Nations rapporteur: “Open your eyes, there is very real poverty out there”

From Channel 4 News: UN special rapporteur Philip Alston talks about his investigation of poverty in the UK…

“Thousands of foodbanks haven’t sprung up because people are looking for things to do. There’s very real poverty out there.”

Tory government ministers? “They were pretty much unconcerned. They think their policies are working.”

"Open your eyes – there is very real poverty out there."UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston says there are people in…

Posted by Channel 4 News on Friday, November 16, 2018

Universal Credit leading to rise in food bank use, charity says

From The Guardian: Britain’s biggest food bank charity has called for urgent changes to Universal Credit after unveiling figures that show it gave out more than 650,000 food parcels in the past six months – a year-on-year increase of 13%.

The Trussell Trust said the government’s insistence on making new claimants wait at least five weeks for their first universal credit payment was driving big increases in the numbers of benefit claimants relying on food banks.

“The only way to stop even more people being forced to food banks this winter will be to pause all new claims to universal credit, until funding is in place to reduce the five-week wait,” said Emma Revie, Trussell’s chief executive.

The trust said more than a fifth of referrals to its network of 428 food banks were generated as a result of claimants facing delays in benefit payments. Nearly a third of this group were waiting specifically for a first universal credit payment.

Revie said the benefits system was failing to protect claimants from hunger. “Our benefits system is supposed to anchor any of us from being swept into poverty, but if universal credit is to do that, we need to see urgent changes,” she said.

The trust said it gave out 658,000 emergency food parcels between April and the end of September. Of these 233,000 went to families with children. During the year 2017-18 it gave out a record 1.3m food parcels to an estimated 666,000 people.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

United Nations begins investigation into UK’s extreme poverty

From CNN: The United Nations has launched an investigation into extreme levels of poverty in one of the richest countries in the world: the United Kingdom.

Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, is starting a two-week fact-finding mission, visiting some of the country’s poorest towns and cities to examine the effects of austerity measures on rising levels of hardship.

Alston, known for his no-holds-barred critiques, will gather evidence on the impact that changes to welfare benefits and local government funding as well as the rising costs of living have had on British families.

“The Government has made significant changes to social protection in the past decade, and I will be looking closely at the impact that has had on people living in poverty and their realization of basic rights,” Alston said in a statement.

“I have received hundreds of submissions that make clear many people are really struggling to make ends meet.”

Read more

Cancer stole my independence – then I was humiliated by universal credit

From The Guardian: Neil MacVicar writes… “Just a couple of weeks after my brain surgery, still struggling with fatigue and other side effects, I went to the Jobcentre to apply for universal credit. I desperately needed some help, after everything I’d been through. But instead of a saving grace, I was faced with another ordeal as I had to sit in front of a computer for an exhausting six hours to fill in the painstakingly long application form. I couldn’t believe this was the process for people, like me, who had been forced to leave jobs they loved because of ill health and were just trying to get by. Worse still, because I registered at the Jobcentre in Scotland, when I did eventually move back to London, I couldn’t change my home and benefits to there.

“A further insult was that, because I was under 26, I wasn’t termed an adult, so I was entitled to even less. This was despite the fact that I left home at 19 and have been independent since then. The whole thing was humiliating.

“People on the Universal Credit helpline weren’t any better. They dismissed my problems and told me I should go back home to Scotland. I felt real pressure to do this, but there’s nothing really left for me there. I don’t know many people there any more, it would just be me, mum and dad – and I’m no longer allowed to drive, which is a real disadvantage in a rural place like Inverness. I love being independent but cancer stole that and universal credit made it even worse. I feel like I’ve been penalised for having cancer and I just want to get my life back. Universal Credit was the worst part. I could deal with the cancer and the treatment, but not Universal Credit.”

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

“I was trained to get Universal Credit claimants off the phone”

From Sky News: Former Universal Credit case manager Bayard Tarpley writes about his experience working in its Grimsby call centre for two years…

Have you ever wondered if the service person on the end of the phone is being deliberately being obstructive?

Well the answer is yes. And I should know – I worked as a Universal Credit case manager where agents were trained to get people off the phone without answering their query.

The answers were from a “deflection script”.

And they were not what you want to hear if you’re a single mother desperate to pay your rent or face being kicked out your home.

[Read full article on Sky News website…]

Universal Credit deliberately makes it hard for claimants to pay for childcare, MPs told

From HuffPost UK: Ministers have been accused of taking an “ideological” decision to make it harder for Universal Credit claimants to secure childcare.

Dalia Ben-Galim, Director of Policy at Gingerbread – a charity that helps single parents – said people receiving the new benefit struggled compared to those in full time work.

Speaking to the Commons Work and Pensions committee on Wednesday, she noted there were two systems of claiming back the costs of childcare – one of those on Universal Credit and one for people in full time work.

The tax-return scheme non-benefit claiming parents use only requires proof their child is registered with a care provider.

People on Universal Credit must provide a receipt as evidence for each payment made to a care provider – which often get rejected over small details.

Ben-Galim said: “I think that is ideological, that is an active decision that has been made about how people depending on where they are on the income scale are treated.”

[Read full article on HuffPost UK…]

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