“East Devon District Council gives out £223,000 in emergency housing payments”

The average house price in East Devon is £295,208 (Zoopla).

“Nearly 400 people struggling with their housing costs had to be helped out by East Devon District Council last year, to the tune of £223,400.

A spokeswoman for East Devon District Council said:

“We have helped around 287 customers who claimed housing benefit and 93 customers who were in receipt of Universal Credit housing costs.

“All awards were made to customers in difficulties, whether it was due to the benefit cap, removal of the spare room subsidy, LHA restrictions, in debt, struggling on a low income due to the welfare reforms, or a combination of those mentioned and other circumstances too.

“The awards have been to single people, couples, single parents, families, working-age or pensioners, with or without disability.

“Each customer’s circumstances are looked at on an individual basis.”

The amount spent on Discretionary Housing Payments in East Devon has increased by 23 per cent since they were introduced in 2013-14.

Last year the amount paid out exceeded the Government allocation of funding by £19,000, meaning East Devon had to use money from its benefits budget.

The chief executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, has criticised the system.

“Discretionary Housing Payments are vital in many cases and can be the difference between people losing their home or not, but they shouldn’t be a replacement for a fit-for-purpose welfare system,” she said.

“These payments shouldn’t be needed in the first place – they’re simply a quick fix to structural problems,” she said.

“To solve the underlying crisis for good, the Government must commit to building 3.1 million social homes in the next 20 years, as well as making sure housing benefit is enough to actually cover rents.”

A DWP spokeswoman said the Government spent £23 billion a year helping people in the UK with their housing costs.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/discretionary-housing-payments-in-east-devon-1-6212190

Appalling rates of child poverty in Devon

“One in eight children live in poverty in Devon – and one in three in parts of Barnstaple.

The startling figures are revealed as part of a new Devon County Council strategy to create “Healthy and Happy Communities” in the county.

The strategy aims to address health and wellbeing challenges that the county faces and to address the considerable inequalities in health and poverty.

It states that there have been recent increases in child poverty and more people are accessing emergency food supplies, and that one in eight children (12.5%) are in poverty.

However in the Forches area of Barnstaple, one in three children are in poverty, compared to just 1.1% of children in the Teignmouth Road area of Dawlish.

Fuel poverty rates also fluctuate dramatically, with 27.9% of people living in Mount Pleasant in Exeter facing it, compared to just 3.6% in Douglas Avenue in Exmouth.

Life expectancy in Ilfracombe Central is just 75 years, compared to 90 in Liverton. While in Sidwell Street in Exeter, 8.2 per cent of 16-64 year-olds have a long term health issue, compared to just 0.8 per cent in Widecombe-in-the-Moor.

About 800,000 people live in Devon.

A consultation on the draft Devon Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy for 2020 to 2025, runs until 5 September.

The final version of the strategy is due to go to the Health and Wellbeing Board in October for approval.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-49297960

“More than 4m in UK are trapped in deep poverty, study finds”

“More than 4 million people in the UK are trapped in deep poverty, meaning their income is at least 50% below the official breadline, locking them into a weekly struggle to afford the most basic living essentials, an independent study has shown.

The Social Metrics Commission also said 7 million people, including 2.3 million children, were affected by what it termed persistent poverty, meaning that they were not only in poverty but had been for at least two of the previous three years.

Highlighting evidence of rising levels of hardship in recent years among children, larger families, lone parent households and pensioners, the commission urged the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, to take urgent action to tackle growing poverty.

The commission’s chair, Philippa Stroud, a Conservative peer, said there was a pressing need for a concerted approach to the problem. “It is time to look again at our approach to children, and to invest in our children as the future of our nation,” she said.

Campaigners said the commission showed austerity had undermined two decades of anti-poverty policy. “By cutting £40bn a year from our work and pensions budget through cuts and freezes to tax credits and benefits, the government has put progress into reverse,” said Alison Garnham, the chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group.

The commission’s membership is drawn from experts across the political spectrum, and includes representatives from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. It was set up in 2016 to develop a new way of measuring poverty.

It found that of 14.3 million in the UK in poverty, 4.5 million were in deep poverty – a third of all those on the breadline, and 7% of the population. In cash terms this means a couple with two children would have an income of less than £211 a week after housing costs, and a single parent with one child would be on less than £101.50 a week. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/29/uk-deep-poverty-study-austerity?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“Child poverty cash handed back to Europe unspent”

“More than £3.5m intended to alleviate child poverty and homelessness is at risk of being wasted because the government has failed to spend it, says a House of Lords committee.

Peers have written to the Home Office saying it is “extraordinary” that the EU funding has not been used.

They warn that some of the cash has already been forfeited and are worried about the rest being handed back.

The government said there had been “barriers” over spending the money.
But peers have written to complain that after almost six years, the government has failed to deliver spending aimed at addressing “the worst forms of poverty”.

About £580,000 of unspent cash has so far been taken back – and a further similar amount is at risk of being deducted at the end of the year. …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-49131685

“State schools choose ‘posh’ uniforms to exclude poor pupils, says MP”

“Some schools are deliberately pricing school uniforms beyond the means of poorer families so “only posh kids go there”, MPs have been told.

Emma Hardy, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle, has written to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, asking him to tell schools to stop forcing parents to buy branded school uniforms.

She said that academies in particular were “emulating grammar schools and private schools” in prescribing prohibitively expensive uniforms – including branded blazers and even socks.

She had also been told that some academies deliberately chose expensive suppliers in order to put off parents of lesser means, and that some schools received a cut from suppliers given the exclusive contract for their uniforms.

“People have told me confidentially that schools get money from suppliers,” said Hardy. …

A survey from the Children’s Society last year found families were shelling out more on school uniforms with an average of £340 per year for each child at secondary school – an increase of 7% or £24 since 2015. Parents of primary school children spent on average £255, an increase of 2% since 2015.

The research found nearly one in six families said school uniform costs were to blame for them having to cut back on food and other basic essentials compared to one in seven in 2015.

In England, local authorities and academy trusts may choose to provide school clothing grants or to help with the cost of school clothing in cases of financial hardship.

In Wales, a Pupil Development Grant can provide £125 to buy school uniform, equipment, sports kit and kit for activities outside of school. In Scotland, parents may be able to get financial help with their child’s school clothing and shoes through a school clothing grant, available from local councils.”

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/jul/23/state-schools-choosing-expensive-uniforms-to-exclude-poor-pupils-says-mp?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Adult social care vastly underfunded in Devon

“A new report has found that Devon County Council to be one of the lowest spenders on adult social care.

Most adult social care spending in England is paid for by local councils.

The report, commissioned by the Salvation Army, examined nationwide social care spending of rural and urban councils and concluded that Devon was among the worst.

The charity calculated the “spending potential” for over-65s with a disability of every local council and unitary authority.

In Devon, the theoretical per person spending was approximately £6,900, a fraction of the £32,000 that Lambeth Council in London can spend.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-48987369

“Britain’s 600 aristocratic families have doubled their wealth in the last decade and are as ‘wealthy as at the height of Empire’ “

“Britain’s aristocrats have enjoyed a dramatic surge in their wealth in the last 30 years – and have seen their riches double in the last decade.

A hereditary title is now worth an average of more than £16m – nearly twice the value it stood at prior to the 2007 financial crisis, i can reveal.

Their fortunes contrast starkly with the decade experienced by the vast majority of Britons where overall productivity has stagnated and inflation-adjusted wages remain stuck at 2005 levels. Since the Thatcher era, the value of a hereditary title has also increased four-fold. …”

Britain’s 600 aristocratic families have doubled their wealth in the last decade and are as ‘wealthy as at the height of Empire’

“UK’s renting millennials face homelessness crisis when they retire”

“More than 600,000 members of so-called ‘Generation Rent’ are facing an “inevitable catastrophe” of homelessness when they retire, according to the first government inquiry into what will happen to millennials in the UK who have been unable to get on the housing ladder as they age.

People’s incomes typically halve after retirement. Those in the private rented sector who pay 40% of their earnings in rent could be forced to spend up to 80% of their income on rent in retirement.

If rents rise at the same rate as earnings, the inquiry found that 52% of pensioners in the private rental sector will be paying more than 40% of their income on rent by 2038. This will mean that at least 630,000 millennials are unable to afford their rent.

They will find themselves homeless or with no choice but to move into temporary accommodation, at the state’s expense, according to the report by the all-party parliamentary group on housing and care for older people.

“The number of households in the private rented sector headed by someone aged over 64 will more than treble over the next 25 to 30 years,” said Richard Best, the chair of the group. “But unless at least 21,000 suitable homes are built a year, there will be nowhere affordable for them to live. The consequence is bound to be homelessness for some.”

The report also forecasts that, in terms of quality of accommodation, the number of older households living in unfit and unsuitable private rented accommodation could leap from about 56,000 to 188,000 in 20 years’ time and to 236,500 in 30 years’ time. And it warns that the UK is headed towards an ‘inevitable catastrophe for the pensioners of tomorrow”.

Substandard housing is already known to be a direct cause of death for many older people: at least 53,000 winter deaths of old people over the last five years have been attributed to conditions related to living in a cold home.

While retired people in social housing are more likely to live in affordable, decent homes, the report – Rental Housing for an Ageing Population – says there is not nearly enough of this housing even now.

“We see the likelihood of a significant shortfall in the available places within the current stock since, at present, few retirement schemes are being created,” said Lord Best. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/17/renting-millennials-homelessness-crisis-retire?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

“School-holiday pressure likely to push food bank usage to ‘record levels’ “

“Food bank usage is expected to rise again when schools break up this summer, a charity has said.

The Trussell Trust has said it fears UK food banks will experience their busiest ever summer in 2019.

A huge 87,496 food parcels went to children in the UK in summer 2018 – a 20% increase on the previous summer, and the charity expects this trend to continue.

The trust said that more than a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the its network go to children, and that extra holiday-time financial pressure placed on families who are entitled to free school meals during term time would fuel the rise.

The total number of food parcels handed out to children and adults between 1 July and 31 August last year was 240,000. The areas that received the most food packages in 2018 were the North West (24,000), London (17,000) and East of England (16,000).

To combat UK hunger, the charity is calling for the government to end the five-week wait for universal credit payments.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Food banks will do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare during the holidays.

“But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.”

Revie called on the government to ensure that benefits reflected the true cost of living and that work is secure and pays the real Living Wage. …”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/07/school-holiday-pressure-likely-push-food-bank-usage-record-levels