“Schools have become ‘fourth emergency service’ for poorest families”

It makes one ashamed to be British. “Suffer the little children …” and they do.

“Schools have become “an unofficial fourth emergency service” for vulnerable families across England and Wales, offering food parcels, clothing and laundry facilities to those worst affected by austerity, according to a new report by a headteachers’ union.

A majority of the 400 school leaders surveyed by the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL) said they were seeing a “rising tide” of poverty among their pupils, at a time when they were having to cut their own budgets and receiving less support from local councils.

Sarah Bone, headteacher of Headlands school, a comprehensive in Yorkshire’s East Riding, said: “We have far too many children with no heating in the home, no food in the cupboards, washing themselves with cold water, walking to school with holes in their shoes and trousers that are ill-fitted and completely worn out, and living on one hot meal a day provided at school.”

Other heads reported pupils with no winter coats, while others said they regularly had to buy shoes for their pupils.

“A decade of austerity has wreaked havoc with the social fabric of the nation and schools have been left to pick up the pieces while coping with real-term funding cuts,” said Geoff Barton, the ASCL’s general secretary.

“They have become an unofficial fourth emergency service for poor and vulnerable children, providing food and clothing and filling in the gaps left by cutbacks to local services.

“Politicians must end their fixation with Brexit and work together to build a new sense of social mission in our country. We simply must do better for struggling families and invest properly in our schools, colleges and other vital public services …..

”Nine out of 10 heads said they gave clothes to their most disadvantaged pupils, and nearly half said they washed clothes for pupils. More than 40% reported operating a food bank at the school or giving food parcels to pupils and their families.

One school leader commented: “In 24 years of education I have not seen the extent of poverty like this. Children are coming to school hungry, dirty and without the basics to set them up for life. The gap between those that have and those that do not is rising and is stark.”

Another teacher said some families had nowhere left to go for help: “We have seen an increase in the number of families needing support for basic human needs.”

Edward Conway, headteacher of St Michael’s Catholic high school in Watford, said: “Pupil poverty has increased significantly over the past eight years, with us providing food, clothing, equipment and securing funds from charitable organisations to provide essential items such as beds and fridges.” …

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/mar/15/schools-have-become-fourth-emergency-service-for-poorest-families

RDE struggling to cope with winter pressures

“NHS England publishes weekly reports which reveal whether hospital trusts are struggling to manage during the colder months, based on key indicators.

This is how Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, which includes the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and 26 community hospitals across the Devon, coped from February 25 to March 3.

Bed Occupancy:

General and acute wards at the trust were 89.8 per cent full on average, above the safe limit of 85 per cent recommended by health experts. The occupancy rate has remained mostly unchanged since the previous week.

British Medical Association (BMA) guidelines state ‘to ensure safe patient care, occupancy should ideally not exceed 85 per cent’.

The BMA also raised concerns about the number of available beds needed to cope with winter demands.

On average, the trust had 670 available beds each day, of which 602 were in use.

Of those, 28 were escalation beds – temporary beds set up in periods of intense pressure.

According to NHS Improvement, a higher proportion of long-stay patients can impact the ability of hospitals to accommodate urgent admissions and manage bed capacity.

At the trust, 285 patients had been in hospital for a week or more, taking up nearly half of the occupied beds.

Of these, 96 patients had been in hospital for at least three weeks, making up 16 per cent of all occupied beds.

Ambulances:

A total of 532 patients were taken by ambulance to A&E during the week. A slight rise in emergency arrivals compared to the previous week, when 523 patients were brought by ambulance.

All of the patients arriving at a hospital by ambulance were transferred within 30 minutes.

NHS guidance states that ambulance crews should hand patients over to A&E staff within 15 minutes of arrival.

Any delay in transferring patients leaves ambulances unable to respond to other emergencies, as well as risking their patients’ safety. The previous week, three patients waited more than 30 minutes to be transferred.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/rd-e-winter-pressures-1-5933264

Today’s promise of 30,000 housing association dwellings put into perspective

Owl says note that the “affordable” hoysing will still be 80% of market value … making these homes still unaffordable for those on low incomes.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has today committed £3billion in extra borrowing to deliver 30,000 new affordable homes in England.

In the Spring Statement, the Chancellor announced that the Government will guarantee the extra borrowing by housing associations to support the delivery of the homes, but did not supply a timetable for delivery.

The Chancellor also announced that £717million from the £5.5billion Housing Infrastructure Fund will be used to help ‘unlock’ up to 37,000 homes at sites including Old Oak Common in London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and Cheshire. …”

BUT IN THE SAME ARTICLE:

“In November This is Money revealed that local councils have fallen over six years behind their own house building targets.

Councils’ own figures revealed that development across the UK is moving at such a glacial pace that 316 sites will have fallen short of targets by 889,803 homes within the next eight years. …”

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-6804561/Spring-Statement-Housing-associations-borrow-3bn-build-new-affordable-homes.html

Bojo says historic child abuse inquiries are a waste of money (he wasted at least £940m as London Mayor)

Maybe because several abusers appear to have been MPs or others (still) in power? And he’s the man whose failed Mayor of London projects cost an estimated £940 million!

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/aug/18/bridge-940m-bill-boris-johnsons-mayora-vanity-projects-garden-bridge-routemaster-bus

“Boris Johnson has declared money spent on non-recent child abuse investigations had been “spaffed up a wall”, prompting immediate criticism from Labour for making reckless and inappropriate comments.

The current favourite to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader was arguing police time and resources were being wasted on crimes committed years ago as he was questioned on an LBC radio phone-in on Wednesday morning.

But he went on to complain: “And one comment I would make is I think an awful lot of money and an awful lot of police time now goes into these historic offences and all this malarkey.

“You know, £60m I saw was being spaffed up a wall on some investigation into historic child abuse and all this kind of thing. What on earth is that going to do to protect the public now?”

Louise Haigh, the shadow policing minister, said Johnson’s remarks were insulting to victims of abuse.

“Could you look the victims in the eye and tell them investigating and bringing to justice those who abused them, as children, is a waste of money?” she asked. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/13/boris-johnson-under-fire-over-remarks-about-child-abuse-inquiries

“Millions in Britain at risk of poor-quality later life, report says”

“A landmark report on the state of ageing in Britain has warned that a significant proportion of people are at risk of spending later life in poverty, ill-health and hardship.

Britain is undergoing a radical demographic shift, with the number of people aged 65 and over set to grow by more than 40% in two decades, reaching more than 17 million by 2036. The number of households where the oldest person is 85 or over is increasing faster than any other age group.

But although we are living longer than ever before, the report warns that millions risk missing out on a good later life due to increasing pressure on health and care services, local authorities, the voluntary sector and government finances.

“Ageing is inevitable but how we age is not. Our current rates of chronic illness, mental health conditions, disability and frailty could be greatly reduced if we tackled the structural, economic and social drivers of poor health earlier,” said Dr Anna Dixon, the chief executive at Centre for Ageing Better.

“Our extra years of life are a gift that we should all be able to enjoy and yet – as this report shows – increasing numbers of us are at risk of missing out,” she added.

The Centre for Ageing Better’s report, The State of Ageing in 2019, warns that today’s least well-off over-50s face far greater challenges than wealthier peers and are likely to die younger, become sicker earlier and fall out of work due to ill-health.

The research brings together publicly available data sources to reveal vast differences in how people experience ageing depending on factors such as where they live, how much money they have or what sex or ethnicity they are.

While people aged 65 can expect to live just half of the remainder of their life without disability, those in less affluent parts of the country will die earlier and be sicker for longer. Ill-health is a major cause of people falling out of work prematurely and can affect quality of life and access to services such as healthcare.

The poorest people are three times more likely than the wealthiest to retire early because of ill-health: 39% of men and 31% of women compared with 6% of both sexes in the highest wealth quintile.

Although we are living far longer, a significant and increasing proportion of people are managing multiple health conditions and mobility problems from mid-life onwards, the report says. Of people aged 50 to 64, 23% have three or more long-term health conditions.

Meanwhile, the poorest men in society aged over 50 are three times more likely than the wealthiest to have chronic heart disease, two times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, and two times more likely to have arthritis.

The report reveals that pensioner poverty is rising for the first time since 2010 and is more prevalent for women and black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups.

At least 1.3 million over-55s live in homes hazardous to their health and one in four 50- to 64 year-olds have three or more chronic health conditions.

The Centre for Ageing Better is calling on the government, businesses and charities to “rethink their approach and avoid storing up problems for the future”.

“This report is a wakeup call for us all – many people in their 50s and 60s now, particularly those who are less well-off, simply won’t get the quality of later life that they expect or deserve,” Dixon said.

“We must act now to add life to our years; to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to make the most of a longer life. Without radical action today to help people age well, we are storing up problems for the future and leaving millions at risk of poverty and poor health in later life.”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/mar/13/millions-in-britain-at-risk-of-poor-quality-later-life-report-says

“Axed Devon, Cornwall and Dorset police merger saw [another] £380k ‘wasted’

… not to mention the millions wasted on a Police and Crime Commissioner …

“Almost £380,000 was “wasted” on a failed merger between two police forces, figures have revealed.

Plans to merge Devon and Cornwall Police with Dorset Police were called off in October after a police and crime commissioner (PCC) opposed the move.
The Police Federation said it was “horrified” such a “large amount of money has been wasted”.

Both police forces said work to create a “robust business case” for the merger could be used in the future.
The £376,798 included consultant fees of more than £190,000, police officer pay totalling almost £119,000 and more than £26,000 on equipment and advertising, a BBC Freedom of Information request has revealed. …

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-47471442

[Ottery] “Hospital faces 18 month wait to apply for community status”

“East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced on February 27 that supporters must wait until February 2020 before re-applying for the hospital to be listed as an asset of community value (ACV). When a building is listed as an ACV, the local community has to be informed if it goes up for sale and the public can enact the ‘community right to bid’ which gives them a period of six months to determine if they can raise the finance to purchase the asset.

The initial decision not to list the building as an ACV came in December when Ottery was one of four East Devon hospitals to be nominated. EDDC stated that it did not believe the hospital furthered the social wellbeing or social interests of the local community.

At the council meeting on February 27, Cllr Roger Giles, who also sits on the Ottery Town Council, raised the matter and referenced Southwold Hospital, in Suffolk, which was successfully listed as an ACV, before becoming the first hospital in the country to be bought by the community.

As part of the decision to list it as an ACV, Cllr Giles said the strategic director of WDC stated the owner’s assertion there is no evidence of the community social wellbeing being furthered defied common sense.

Cllr Giles said this is a view shared by many local Ottery residents about their hospital and warned that Ottery and other local community hospitals are at risk because of this perverse decision. He said EDDC is suffering reputational damage as a result of this ‘very regrettable’ decision.

Cllr Ian Thomas, leader of EDDC, said each case is considered on its merits and there had been no new evidence to warrant a review for Ottery.

Last week, leading figures from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and the Northern, Eastern and Western Locality Devon Clinical Commissioning Group attended a discussion to review plans for the building. A statement from the working group said: “A wide-ranging and constructive discussion took place, and a number of tasks were allocated.”

A further meeting will be held in early June.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/ottery-hospital-wait-1-5930495