Swire talks of knife crime epidemic but has no idea why it is happening!

““… Different people blame different causes; gangs, new patterns of drug dealing, school exclusions, the reduction of stop-and-search powers, the influence of social media.

“And there is no certain answer as to how these factors associate with each other….”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-devon-mp-knife-crime-epidemic-warning-1-59452

Owl has a pretty good idea why:

AUSTERITY AND ITS ATTENDANT POVERTY

Nothing for poor kids to do (youth facilities and youth workers cut), feeling they don’t matter when their (often working hard) parents are depending on food banks and/or universal credit, hungry at school, seeing the rich getting much richer with no effort, a consumer society that says “growth” (ie spending) is paramount …

“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

“Axe personal allowance and pay everyone £48 a week, says thinktank” [and no-one will be worse off!]

What a genius idea – many people better off and no-one worse off!

“… The proposal, from the New Economics Foundation thinktank, is for a £48.08 “weekly national allowance,” amounting to £2,500.16 a year from the state, paid to every adult over the age of 18 earning less than £125,000 a year. The cash would not replace benefits and would not depend on employment. …

The weekly payments would be fully funded by the abolition of the tax-free personal allowance, which has seen inflation-busting increases under the Conservatives over the past 10 years, but which NEF said had benefited richer households most.

For someone on £25,000 a year, the personal allowance means that the first £12,500 of their earnings, from this April, are not charged basic rate tax at 20%. This is worth £2,500. But if the same person is paid £48 a week instead, they will receive £2,496 a year, so they will be no better or worse off. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/11/scrap-tax-free-personal-allowance-and-pay-everyone-48-a-week

“Universal Credit staff now visit hospitals to make patients ‘prove they are unwell’ “

“Universal Credit workers have been visiting sick patients in hospital to check they are actually unwell, a damning new review into the roll-out of the welfare system has revealed.

Department for Work and Pensions chiefs were found to be interviewing people awaiting NHS treatment to ensure they were on the right money and not abusing the system.

The practice has been condemned as ‘grotesque’ by a council scrutiny panel in London, where it has emerged hospitalised Universal Credit claimants have received shock visits from the welfare state police.

In one instance, DWP officers visited a person in hospital awaiting an operation because they had missed an appointment.

The behaviour was uncovered as part of a review by Islington’s Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee, which has been tracking the full rollout of Universal Credit in Islington since June, reports the Islington Gazette. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/universal-credit-nhs-hospital-visits-2593477

“Rich getting richer while poor get poorer, official figures show – with ‘Brexit and benefits freeze to blame’ “

“The rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer, according to official statistics, dealing a heavy blow to Theresa May’s claim to be tackling “burning injustices”.

They showed the incomes of the richest fifth of households grew by 4.7 per cent last year – while the incomes of the poorest fifth of households fell by 1.6 per cent.

The respected Resolution Foundation thinktank blamed the controversial freeze on benefit levels, adding to problems caused by higher inflation following the Brexit referendum. …”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/inequality-benefits-freeze-ons-brexit-theresa-may-labour-austerity-a8797416.html

“Millions more on incomes too low to have acceptable living standards – study”

“Two million more people are on incomes considered too low to have an “acceptable” standard of living compared with 10 years ago, new research has found.

A study by Loughborough University suggested three quarters of lone parent families had earnings too low to meet their minimum needs – up by 65% since the financial crisis in 2008.

And the number of single women in their early 60s – a group affected by an increase to the state pension age – living below the minimum standard of living was found to have doubled in the last decade.

The University’s Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) conducted the research as part of its Minimum Income Standards programme, which calculates the minimum budget individuals require to cover their material needs and to participate in society.

Its findings suggested that, compared to 2008, two in five women aged 60-64 who live alone have incomes too low to meet their minimum needs, up from one in five. …”

https://www.itv.com/news/2019-02-06/millions-more-on-incomes-too-low-to-have-acceptable-living-standards-study/

“Local authorities forced to cut council tax support sees surge in unpaid tax bills” (well, duh!)

“Around 90% of English councils have been forced cut council tax support for working age claimants, meaning many low-income households have fallen behind with their council tax bills, according to new research.

A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has highlighted the impact of the government’s decision to abolish the centralised council tax support (CTS) for low-income households in 2013, which has seen an extra 1.3 million working-age households sent a council tax bill.

Nearly five million households received localised tax support in 2017-18, costing local authorities a total of £4.1bn – and 2.4 million working-age people received support, with an average benefit of £770 per year.
But the IFS has estimated that councils have failed to collect one-quarter of the extra council tax that low-income households have been billed as a result of the funding cuts.

This explosion of unpaid council tax is around 10 times higher than the 2.5% of council tax uncollected by local authorities under the old CTS system.

CTS schemes have also continued to become less generous since they have suffered funding cuts and were brought under local council control – and the report reveals that low-income households in poor parts of England are more likely to have been affected than those in affluent areas.

Director of welfare at the Nuffield Foundation, Mark Franks, said: “The fact that local authorities are unable to collect around one quarter of the additional council tax they have asked for indicates that support schemes are not working as effectively as they could.

“This important research should help in reviewing the design of council tax support schemes and the benchmarks they are based on.”

The report stated that giving people an entirely new bill is what seems so problematic with this type of tax collection.

Thomas Pope, one of the authors of the report and an IFS researcher, commented: “Many low-income households do not pay this new bill, almost regardless of its size. From their point of view, these changes have clearly increased problems with council tax arrears.

“From councils’ point of view, they are likely to receive significantly more council tax if they increase bills for those already paying some council tax than if they try to raise the same extra money from those who currently have no bill to pay.”

http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com/Public-Sector-News/local-authorities-forced-to-cut-council-tax-support-sees-surge-in-unpaid-tax-bills