“UK’s ‘cruel and harmful policies’ lack regard for child hunger, says NGO”

“Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the UK government of breaching its international duty to keep people from hunger by pursuing “cruel and harmful polices” with no regard for the impact on children living in poverty.

Examining family poverty in Hull, Cambridgeshire and Oxford, it concluded that tens of thousands of families do not have enough to eat. And it revealed that schools in Oxford are the latest to have turned to food banks to feed their pupils.

In a damning 115-page report that echoes previous expert condemnation of the UK’s policies on food poverty, the NGO – better known for documenting abuses from Myanmar to Haiti – said that the government was breaching its obligations under human rights law to ensure people have enough food.

Volunteers and staff at schools in Oxford confirmed that they were now reliant on donations, saying that teachers were noticing pupils who were missing meals at home and needed to be fed.

HRW said that ministers had “largely ignored growing evidence of a stark deterioration in the standard of living for the country’s poorest residents, including skyrocketing food bank use, and multiple reports from school officials that many more children are arriving at school hungry and unable to concentrate”.

The report will provide further ammunition to those who say that the government is failing in its duty to the poorest. It comes before Wednesday’s release of the final report on the UK by Philip Alston, the United Nations rapporteur on extreme poverty, who has already highlighted the same issues in his interim findings, following a two-week tour of the UK last November.

The report, which will appear on the eve of the European parliamentary elections, is likely to echo Alston’s warning last month that the political preoccupation with Brexit meant that issues like poverty are being ignored in a way that will leave the country “severely diminished”. Alston said: “You are really screwing yourselves royally for the future by producing a substandard workforce and children that are malnourished.”

The government dismissed the findings, saying that it was misleading to present them as representative of the whole country, and said it is helping parents back into work to reduce poverty and is ending the benefit freeze next year. …

Kartik Raj, the author of the HRW report, said growing hunger was “a troubling development in the world’s fifth largest economy”. He said: “Standing aside and relying on charities to pick up the pieces of its cruel and harmful policies is unacceptable. The UK government needs to take urgent and concerted action to ensure that its poorest residents aren’t forced to go hungry.”


“More than 2,500 post offices are set to close in one year unless ministers intervene”

“MORE THAN 2,500 post offices will be wiped out within a year unless ministers intervene, a trade body is warning.

Business Secretary Greg Clark was last night told communities across the UK face “catastrophe” without Government action.

In a blistering report, the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) warns that the Post Office network is “beyond tipping point” and urgent support is required to keep almost one in four branches going.

The Federation says a “digital” first approach by ministers means that revenue from providing Government services such as DVLA forms has collapsed from £576 million in 2005 to just £99 million in 2018.

And it says Royal Mail appears more interested in dealing directly with the public over the web than supporting the network.

Some 98 per cent of Post Offices are run by franchisees or ‘SubPostmasters’, with many vital for smaller towns or villages. There are 9,300 branches employing approximately 40,000 people.


Calum Greenhow, NFSP chief said: “The viability of sub post offices and the morale of sub postmasters has been eroded to the extent that the network’s resilience is extremely limited.

“We believe a tipping point has been passed and the consequences of this are now being realised.”

He added: “SubPostmasters are resigning in high numbers because it is increasingly difficult to make a decent living.

“The closure of 2,500 post offices in a year would be a catastrophic loss to communities across the UK.”


What’s the future for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan? Highly debatable … unless …

Exeter – minor changes on 2 May (new Green Councillor, first Independendent councillor) but Labour still in control

Mid Devon – now no overall control (Lib Dems, Indies and Greens outnumber Tories)

Teignbridge – Lib Dems won control

East Devon – now no overall control (Indies, Lib Dems and Greens outnumber Tories)

Oh dear, looks like GESP may have to go back to the drawing board …

UNLESS the previous (unelected) councillors controlling it (Diviani for East Devon) and their bossy officers stitched it up before the falls from grace …

People sent to care homes more than 450 miles away from home

“One in five care home residents have been sent out of their local area, with some stranded more than 450 miles from families and friends, according to official data revealed under freedom of information (FOI) laws.

In the worst cases, frail or vulnerable people are being taken from five local authority areas in London and southern England to Glasgow and northeast Scotland, because beds are unavailable at home or cheaper elsewhere.

More than two thirds of the local authorities which responded to the FOI request said they had sent somebody at least 125 miles away.

Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow minister for social care, who found the information, said: “This makes a mockery of the government’s claim that they want people to receive care at home.”

The human cost of the policy was described as “heartbreaking” by Judy Downey, chief executive of the charity Relatives and Residents Association. On average, one in 10 care home residents never receive any visitors.

“If [friends and family] can’t get there, frankly it doesn’t matter if it is five miles away or 500,” she said. “Often people have more information about their weekend break in Paris than they are ever going to get on what goes on in a care home.”

Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents independent social care services, said: “Local authorities just look for where they can find a bed . . . It’s a really huge issue because people should not be removed from their communities or their families.”

Source: Sunday Times (pay wall)