Vote Tory if you don’t care about the young or the old

A VOTE FOR ANYONE OTHER THAN CLAIRE WRIGHT IN EAST DEVON MEANS YOU HANDED YOUR VOTE TO CONSERVATIVES WHICHEVER PARTY YOU VOTED FOR – ONLY CLARE WRIGHT CAN DEFEAT THEM – VOTE TACTICALLY UF YOU DO NOT WANT JUPP TO RETAIN SWIRE’S SEAT

A quarter of Devon’s children live in poverty says Devon County Council

It’s what people voted for when they voted Conservative for continued austerity.

“A quarter of Devon’s children are living in poverty once housing costs taken into account.

More than 35,000 children in Devon are living in poverty once housing costs are taken into account, councillors have heard.

A Children’s Services Self-Assessment went before Devon County Council’s Children’s Scrutiny Committee last Monday which provided an up-to-date evaluation of the needs of children and families in Devon.

The report outlined how 14 per cent of the local authority’s children are living in poverty (before housing costs), but that rises to 25 per cent (after housing costs) are taking into account.

More than 10 per cent of children are entitled to free school meals, the report added, and also says that 41,000 households in the county are affected by fuel poverty.

Cllr Rob Hannaford, chairman of the Children’s Scrutiny Committee, said that the figures were shocking and in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception but the rule.

Commenting on the report after the meeting, he said: “These local figures for child poverty in Devon are truly shocking, and it’s completely unacceptable and wrong in 2019, in one of the richest countries in the world, that we are still dealing with this most basic of issues affecting so many children.

“Large numbers of people seem to just wrongly assume that because we live a beautiful part of the country, that we don’t experience the same serious social problems that other areas do. These new figures again show in stark reality that this is just not the case, and much of our poverty and hardship is hidden by the affluence that some others have.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Thousands more families across Devon, are living on the cusp of the poverty line. One unexpected setback – like redundancy or illness – could push them into the poverty trap.

“Overall there are more than four million children in the UK growing up in poverty. The situation is getting worse, with the number set to rise to five million by 2020. And those poverty rates have risen for every type of working family – lone-parent or couple families, families with full and part-time employment and families with different numbers of adults in work. This is the first time in two decades this has happened, and incredibly it is happening at a time of rising employment, and these figures in Devon are in line with these trends.

“But the evidence is clear – poverty can make existing vulnerabilities worse. Growing up in poverty puts at risk the building blocks of a good childhood – secure relationships, a decent home, having friends and fun, and an inspiring education.

“A child is said to be living in poverty when they are living in a family with an income below 60 per cent of the UK’s average after adjusting for family size. So it’s just not acceptable that some people still seem to trot out the same old tired response that no one is really in poverty these days, and it’s like Victorian times or the 1930s, such as when children didn’t have shoes on their feet.

“My grandparents were brought up in near slum conditions, and at times they also did not have proper shoes, and went hungry, are we really seriously saying that we want to inflict all this misery and hardship on children today?”

He continued: “Clearly the biggest driver for children’s poverty nationally and locally is the profound lack of social, affordable, decent housing. The figures are stark. 120,000 children in England are living in temporary accommodation. There are also 90,000 children living in families who are ‘sofa-surfing’. And of course this accommodation is usually terrible.

What is poverty in the UK?

“B&Bs where sometimes the bathroom is shared and there is nowhere to cook. Places where vulnerable adults can be living on the same corridor. Office block conversions – individual flats the size of a parking space, where families live and sleep in the same single room. And even converted shipping containers – cramped and airless – hot in the summer, freezing in the winter. This is a reality that shames the whole nation.

“Rising living costs, low wages and cuts to benefits are creating a perfect storm in which more children are falling into the poverty trap. Shockingly, two thirds of children living in poverty have at least one parent in work. Many families are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. The prices of essentials like food and fuel are going up and this hits Britain’s poorest families hardest. We know that parents are skipping meals so they can afford to feed their children, and in winter many families are forced to make the impossible choice of feeding their children or heating their homes.

“So we know what actually causes child poverty and we know how to end it. We know that the income of less well-off families has been hit by severe real-terms cuts in benefits and by higher housing costs. And we know that work does not always guarantee a route out of poverty, with two thirds of child poverty occurring in working families.

“Yet in many areas, including Devon, growing up in poverty is not the exception, it’s the rule, with more children expected to get swept up in poverty in the coming years, with serious consequences for their life chances. Policy makers can no longer deny the depth and breadth of the problem, and the Government must respond with a credible long term child poverty reduction strategy.”

The report revealed that in primary schools, 10.9 per cent of pupils are entitled to free schools meals, and 10 per cent in secondary schools, but Cllr Hannaford feared that the numbers were in reality much higher.

He added: “The percentage is shocking, but there is a feeling in rural areas that it may be more as there is a stigma about people and they don’t claim it so they don’t have the finger pointed at in the local community.”

Cllr Margaret Squires, who represents the Creedy, Taw & Mid Exe ward, added her concerns to those of Cllr Hannaford.

She said: “A headteacher who had moved down here from London said to me the deprivation they see is different. Down here, people don’t want others to know they have free school meals, so they are working every hour they can. But it means that the children are missing out as the parents are so tired, they haven’t got the time to sit and listen to them read.

“I my area, we are virtually fully employed, but some of them work two jobs so they can live in the area, and to survive, they are working all these hours, but it not recorded as deprivation as they don’t have time to sit and read with their children.”

The figures in the report showed at as of September 1, 2019, 771 children were being looked after by the council – a rate of 54.8 per 10,000 children – an increase from 750 – 52.2 per 10,000 children – at March 31.

At September 1, 2019, 3,219 children had been identified through assessment as being formally in need of a specialist children’s service, an increase from 3,318 in March 2019, but the number of children subject of a child protection plan had decreased from 518 to 505 between March and September.

The report also said that there were 25 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the area, and that eight children and young people who turned 18 years old and who were in the care of the local authority were living in unsuitable accommodation during 2018-19.

Cllr Linda Hellyer questioned what the council was doing about it, why they were unsuitable, and what have we done to get them somewhere better.

In response, Darryl Freeman, Head of Children’s Social Care, explained that the definition of unsuitable included prison, where two of the eight were in custody. He added that the council will continue to work with them, assuming they allow them to remain in touch, and to ensure that they have choices once they leave custody.

The report also added that the top three risks for the future were increase in demand, across all services, recruitment and retention, particularly of experienced social workers, and sufficiency of provision for special needs children and placements for Children in Care.

The council also earlier this year adopted a new Children and Young People’s Plan, which is the single plan to co-ordinate developments for the next three years

Each priority in the plan has a detailed strategy/ action plan below it with a multi-agency group led by a senior manager from the partnership.

The self-assessment report was noted by the committee.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/child-poverty-devon-truly-shocking-3579939

“Watchdog bans DWP’s ‘misleading’ [aka lying] universal credit adverts”

“A series of government ads extolling the virtues of universal credit and purporting to bust negative myths about the flagship Conservative welfare policy has been banned because it is “misleading”.

In an embarrassing indictment of the policy before next month’s general election, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) found that a claim that people moved into work faster on universal credit (UC) than under the old system could not be substantiated.

Two other claims – that jobcentres will pay an advance to people who need it and that rent can be paid directly to landlords under UC – were also found to be unsubstantiated.

The adverts, part of a £225,000 Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) campaign to detoxify UC, appeared in print in the Metro newspaper and on its website, as well as on the MailOnline, in May and June.

They attracted 44 complaints, including from the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and the anti-poverty charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K), who have called for the DWP to apologise in light of the ASA ruling.

The Z2K chief executive, Raji Hunjan, also demanded an investigation into working practices at the department.

“If it has misled the public on UC, its flagship policy, what else is it misleading us on?” Hunjan said. “The next government must engage with the compelling evidence that points to the harm UC is causing, leaving many people reliant on food banks and others destitute. Enough is enough.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/06/dwp-misleading-universal-credit-uncovered-ad-banned?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Food bank users in Devon reach a record high”

And remember – you can’t just turn up at a foid bank: you have to be referred by a doctor, social worker and the like. And many recipients are from working families.

“The number of people using food banks in Devon has hit a record high, and Universal Credit has been blamed for contributing to the problem.

Figures provided by the Trussell Trust, a charity that works to end the need for food banks in the UK, more than 24,000 emergency food parcels were issued to people in need across our county in 2018/19.

One in three of these food parcels, or 8,242, was for a child.

Campaigners say “enough is enough” and warned Universal Credit is adding to the huge numbers of people who don’t have enough money to “cover the basics” such as food. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/food-bank-users-devon-reach-3422071

AveragecUK earnings increase 2p per hour in two years – top 1% earnings go up £7 per hour in same period

“The top 1% of high earners in the UK have enjoyed a 7.6% real terms pay increase over the last two years, while the average worker’s pay rose by just 2p an hour.

A TUC analysis of government hourly pay data between 2016 and 2018 shows thatpay among the very top earners increased at a faster rate than any other group.

People in the top bracket saw their pay increase by an average of 7.6% from £58.73 in 2016 to £63.18 in 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) annual survey of hours and earnings. Over the same period, the real terms pay of average workers rose by just 0.1% or 2p to from £12.71 to £12.73.

The TUC said that average pay in real terms, when adjusted for inflation, was still worth less in real terms than before the financial crisis continuing the biggest squeeze on wages since the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, warned that the gap between the richest and everyone else will continue to widen under the prime minister, Boris Johnson’s planned tax cut for high earners, which will cost the Treasury £9.6bn a year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

“While millions struggle with Britain’s cost of living crisis, pay for those at top is back in the fast lane,” O’Grady said. “We need an economy that works for everyone, not just the richest 1%. Boris Johnson’s promised tax giveaway to high earners would only make things worse. The prime minister is focused on helping his wealthy mates and donors, not working people.” …

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2019/oct/12/average-uk-earners-gained-just-2p-per-hour-in-two-years-tuc-reveals?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Sharp increase in families on brink of becoming homeless”

“The number of families at risk of becoming homeless has risen by more than 10 per cent as councils struggle to support people living in overcrowded accommodation or facing eviction.

In the first three months of this year 70,430 households were judged to be on the brink of being made homeless, up from 63,620 in the previous quarter, the latest figures showed.

Local authorities have placed 84,740 families and couples in temporary housing, including 126,020 children, the highest figure in a decade.

A report last month by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England, showed that thousands of children were living in converted shipping containers and office blocks after being classed as homeless.

Yesterday’s figures were published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government a year after rules came into effect requiring councils to do more to prevent people from becoming homeless. It doubled to 56 days the period over which they must assess a person’s risk.

The most common reason for people becoming homeless, affecting 18,150 households, was family or friends no longer being willing to provide temporary shelter. The second most frequent cause was the termination of a shorthold tenancy by the landlord, which applied in 14,700 cases.

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, which represents housing associations, said more homes should be built for rent by people on low incomes rather than for better-off private buyers.

“It is unacceptable that the number of families living in temporary accommodation has been allowed to reach an eight-year high with no real action to tackle the root of the problem,” she said.

David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman and Conservative leader of Swindon borough council, welcomed extra funds announced in the budget to support homeless people but said that long-term funding was needed.

“A lack of affordable housing has left many councils struggling to cope with a rising number of people coming to them for help and are having to place more families and households into temporary and emergency accommodation as a result,” he said.

Luke Hall, a housing minister, said the Homelessness Reduction Act, which came in last year, was “helping people earlier so they are not having to experience homelessness in the first place”. He said the latest figures showed that progress was being made. “There is still more to do, though, which is why we have committed a record investment to ending homelessness and rough sleeping for good.”

The government published a separate report which showed that the number of vulnerable people sleeping rough had fallen by one third.”

Source: Times (pay wall)