Jeremy Hunt’s £40m cuts will hit our work to prevent disease, councils warn

Town halls could be forced to cut back on immunisation campaigns and work to prevent teenage pregnancy and the spread of diseases such as HIV and TB after the Government announced plans to axe £40 million from the capital’s public health budget. 001

Council leaders, including Tories, said the move by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was “very disappointing” and a “false economy”.

The Department of Health has announced it is going ahead with plans to cut public health grant allocations by £200 million nationwide this year.

London Councils, which represents the capital’s local authorities, warned that the cut to its £578 million budget would disproportionately affect the poorest boroughs.

More than a fifth of the national cuts will be made in London, with 30 per cent higher cuts per head for the average Londoner compared with the rest of England. Seven of the 10 authorities losing the most are in the capital.

The boroughs share responsibility for HIV prevention — more than 30,000 Londoners are living with diagnosed HIV and more than one third of new diagnoses in 2013 were in the capital.

They are also tasked with halting the spread of tuberculosis — London has one of the highest rates of the disease in western Europe.

Councillor Teresa O’Neill, London Councils health spokesman, said: “It is very disappointing to hear the Government is going ahead with these in-year cuts to public health budgets. This will mean London boroughs have to find a further £40 million of savings within this year.

“Everyone agrees that more focus and funding should go on prevention — helping people to avoid ill health and thereby reducing pressures on cash-strapped NHS and council services. It is a false economy to cut these budgets.”

The capital’s town halls believe it is more important than ever to invest in public health.

London has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity among similarly sized cities; 8,400 Londoners die because of a smoking-related illness every year; and there were more than 113,000 new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in the capital last year.

The move could also hit Health Visitor and Family Nurse Practitioner services for children under five, which transferred to councils last month.

London Councils has already warned that handling public health funding differently to the wider NHS, simply because it moved across to councils in 2013, was “unfair and short-sighted”.



#cut, #cuts, #health, #healthcare, #mental-health, #nhs-2

Girl who lost a leg to cancer told ‘you’re not disabled enough to keep your Mobility car’

STUDENT Olivia Cork has been told she is ‘not disabled enough’ to keep her specially adapted Motability car – despite having lost a leg to cancer.

The 19-year-old was told her specially-adapted vehicle was being taken away from her following Government changes to disability benefits.

Olivia – who was diagnosed with cancer aged 14 – was left distraught at the possibility of losing the car, which allows her to lead a full and independent life.

But after hearing about her plight, generous well-wishers donated more then £6,000 in just a few days to allow her to buy the car.001

Olivia, who lives in Newchapel, said: “Taking away the car would be taking away my lifeline. Without it I don’t know what I would do.”

The teenager had her right leg amputated above the knee after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a form of bone cancer – in January 2011.

Cancer-free for the last four years, Olivia now studies at Alsager Sixth Form, works part-time in a pharmacy and a pub and competes for two swimming clubs.

On top of this, she also volunteers her time for charities including Teenage Cancer Trust, Macmillan and Cancer Research.

She has been using her Ford Fiesta Motability car to get to all these commitments since passing her test two years ago, but was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that she was no longer eligible for it. The decision follows changes to the Disability Living Allowance, which has been replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Olivia, who does not receive any benefits other than the car, said: “Because I can walk 20 metres I’m not classed as being disabled enough. I was gutted. I use the car all the time. I couldn’t get to swimming training at 6am without it, and I don’t know how I would get to sixth form and work.

“It’s not that I think I’m entitled to it – I know it is a privilege – but PIP is supposed to help people to be independent and it is taking that away from me.”

Following the decision by the DWP, a Crowdfunder page was set up online to help Olivia raise the £5,500 she needs to buy the car outright and insure it.

The total raised has now topped £6,000 in just over a week, meaning Olivia will get to keep her car.

She said: “It is phenomenal. To have that support is amazing.”

Her mum, Fiona Gibson, said the family was ‘so thankful’ to those who had donated. But the 48-year-old said she was disgusted by the DWP’s decision.

“It’s unbelievable that somebody with one leg is not classed as disabled enough,” she said. “Everybody we have spoken to is absolutely horrified.”

A DWP spokesman said yesterday: “Ms Cork was given the opportunity to appeal the decision regarding her claim for PIP but chose not to. We are working closely with Motability who are providing support to people leaving the scheme following reassessment.

“Motability have decided that the majority of people will be eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000, which will help ensure their mobility needs continue to be met.”


#benefits, #benefits-street, #cut, #cuts, #disability, #disability-benefit, #disability-living-allowance, #disabled, #dla, #personal-independence-payment, #pip

Cuts to social rent will transfer cash from councils directly to Whitehall

Reductions to social rents largely represent a transfer from councils and housing associations to the exchequer, not to social tenants, who will actually see little or no direct benefit from the cuts, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said.001

The 1% annual reduction in social rents announced in the Summer Budget, effective from 2016, had already been criticised by local authorities – who claimed the move would both inflate service costs by £2.6bn as well as threaten plans for thousands of new homes.

But the IFS has now revealed that the cuts will also save Whitehall money while failing to serve the tenants it was designed to help. Entitlement to housing benefit will be reduced pound-for-pound as their rents drop.

And by reducing the annual rental income of councils and housing associations by £2.3bn, the housing supply will face a harsh blow. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that 14,000 fewer social sector homes will be built by the end of the decade.

Lower rents will also increase the financial incentive to seek and stay in social housing rather than looking into Right to Buy schemes that the government advocates.

But the slashed rents could also act as an incentive to move into work or increase earnings, since tenants will have less means-tested housing benefit to lose by doing so.

Robert Joyce, senior research economist at the IFS and co-author of the report, said the recent policy on social rents shows, in reality, “a worrying lack of consistency”.

“The government had committed to increasing social rents for ten years; but after just one of those ten years, it announced that rents will instead fall on the next four years. This instability could damage the ability of social landlords to plan and finance new housebuilding,” he added.

Pay to Stay

The report also analysed a similar policy introduced in the Summer Budget, ‘Pay to Stay’, which will force social landlords to charge market or ‘near market’ rents to tenants with pooled incomes above £30,000 from April 2017.

The IFS expects this policy to affect around 250,000 households per year (or 7% of social renting households), although four-fifths of those homes are in the top half of the income distribution.

But fundamental decisions around this scheme have yet to be made, such as how sharply rents will increase as tenants’ incomes move beyond the £30,000 cut-off. As a result, the effect on their incomes and work incentives and on revenue for councils and the government are still unknown.

Yet assuming that rents would jump to market levels once incomes hit the threshold, the IFS found that people earning just £1 more could be forced to pay up thousands of pounds extra. This would naturally lead to perverse incentives as any pay rise could trigger a sharp rent rise.

Instead, the institute said increasing rents gradually as incomes move past the threshold would be more sensible, although work incentives would still suffer a blow.

And contrary to cuts to social rents, the policy would increase the incentive for higher-earning tenants to leave the sector and exercise their Right to Buy – which could ultimately destabilise the economic diversity amongst social renters.

Andrew Hood, another research economist and co-author of the report, said: “There are trade-offs between the targeting of support and tenants’ incentives to increase their incomes.

“Pay to Stay will target the rent subsidy more closely on those in current need, but at the expense of weakening tenants’ work incentives.”


#budget, #crisis, #cut, #cuts, #houses, #housing, #social-housing

Commons back Osborne plan for tax credit cuts

MPs have backed government plans to cut spending on tax credits in the face of opposition from Labour and the SNP.

The Commons approved plans to lower the earnings level above which tax credits are withdrawn from £6,420 to £3,850 and speed up the rate at which the benefit is lost as pay rises by 35 votes.11709489_985449581488924_1385951511306534685_n

Ministers say the move, estimated to save £4.4bn, is part of wider plans to raise pay and incentivise work.

But Labour say it is an “ideological attack” on working families.

The curbs on tax credits were announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s post-election Budget in June.

During a 90-minute debate in the Commons, the opposition claimed three million families face losing an average of £1,000 a year from next April.

But ministers said the tax credit system had, for too long, been used to subsidise low pay and the changes would bring total expenditure on tax credits back down to more sustainable levels seen in 2007-8.


MPs backed a motion enacting the changes by 325 votes to 290.

Treasury minister Damian Hinds said eight out of 10 households would be better off by 2018-9 as a result of measures announced in the Budget to introduce a national living wage, further increase the personal tax allowance and extend childcare subsidies.

“For too long in this country, low pay has been addressed not by genuine reform and driving productivity but by subsidising the tax credit system,” he said.

“The changes introduced in this order will build on the last parliament’s reforms and return real-terms tax credit spending to the level it was in 2007-08 – a decade into the tenure of the government of the Labour Party.”

But Labour’s Seema Malhotra said the changes were being “sneaked through the back door”.

“This is a political decision made by the chancellor that is set to see over three million families lose an average of £1,000 a year,” the shadow Treasury minister said. “It is ideologically driven, it is cynical and it will directly increase levels of poverty in Britain.”

“It is part of an ongoing attack on the incomes of some of the most hard working families in our constituencies – those very strivers the chancellor purported to support.”

The SNP insisted families will have to make difficult choices about food and heating their home if they lose £100 a month, while the Lib Dems said their eight MPs had opposed the curbs on tax credits, saying they “hit low income working people who are doing the right thing”.

Source- BBC News

#benefit-cuts, #cut, #cuts, #poverty, #tax-credit, #tax-credits, #working

Protest at Jobcentre in Edinburgh over advocate while campaigners occupy Glasgow offices of Triage

Campaigners staged an ad-hoc protest at an Edinburgh job centre on Thursday, after they complained about the treatment of a jobseeker earlier in the day.ass

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty claimed management at the High Riggs Jobcentre closed the building because of the protest. The Department for Work and Pensions claim the building was fully operational.

Campaigners say the protest started after a Jobcentre staff member questioned Michael Carmichael from the ECAP, who was accompanying a claimant to a Jobseeker’s Agreement review.

Carmichael claims he was asked for ID by staff in the Jobcentre and when he refused security asked him to leave. Staff then phoned the police.

Carmichael, who regularly accompanies claimants to meetings at the Jobcentre, said: “There is no requirement to provide ID. I’d accompanied people at this Jobcentre dozens of times before.

“The DWP have guidelines which say claimants have the right to be accompanied and represented by anyone they wish. So they’re breaking their own rules. Our attitude is that this is just to try and intimidate people into not being accompanied.”

The sit-in lasted for around three hours. A spokesman for the DWP said the protest started after the claimant was put on a community work placement: “There are near-record levels of people in employment in Scotland, with almost 60,000 more people in private-sector jobs over the last year.

“Community Work Placements help long-term unemployed people gain valuable work experience and skills which improves their chances of securing a job. The placements must benefit local communities and importantly, do not replace existing roles.”

Protest 2

THE Glasgow offices of Triage, a company used by the Department for Work and Pensions, were briefly occupied by campaigners protesting at the use of sanctions and workfare, the Government’s unpaid work-for-benefits scheme.

Four campaigners sneaked their way into the office before launching the protest.

The Government’s workfare programme sees the long-term unemployed expected to work 30 hours a week for 26 weeks in return for their benefits.

Dr Sarah Glynn from the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network said Triage was “absolutely complicit in the work programme, making people work for nothing and sanctions which leave people destitute and can cause serious injuries and death”.

After the occupation the organisers then moved on to Glasgow’s Buchanan Street where a crowd formed. Anti-austerity campaigner Sean Clerkin said: “This company makes £11 million a year; 1.75 million people went through the work programme and only three per cent get permanent jobs. It’s a scandal.”

The above article is from The National.

#austerity, #cut, #cuts, #protest, #protests, #training, #workfare

Soaring numbers of desperate pensioners being made homeless as charities slam high rents and benefits cuts

Charities have said brutal benefits cuts are behind a growing number of desperate elderly people being made homeless.11709489_985449581488924_1385951511306534685_n

Department of Local Government and Communities figures analysed by Mirror Online show 1,300 elderly people were classed as homeless or in ‘priority need’ of emergency accommodation last year.

The figure is 10 per cent up on two years ago, when 1,180 people over-65 needed emergency help from local councils to find shelter.

Charities have said Government cuts to benefits and homeless services and rising private rents are to blame.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive for homeless charity Crisis, said: “The reasons for this rise are clear – more and more households are struggling to pay their rent in an increasingly insecure rental market, while cuts to housing benefit and services that prevent and solve homelessness have left the safety net in tatters.

“Homelessness is a harrowing experience for anyone, but for older people, some of whom will have disabilities or physical health issues, it can be particularly distressing.

“For anyone finding themselves in financial difficulty, the prospects are decidedly bleak.

“In theory older people should be able to get help from their council, but there is always a danger they will slip through the gaps. It would be far better if they never had to face homelessness in the first place.”

Of th 1,300 classed as homeless last year – 420 were over 75.

According to Crisis figures there has been a 26 per cent increase in homelessness since 2009/10 – the year the Conservatives came to power.

Local councils must provide people with emergency accommodation once it has established they are not ‘intentionally homeless’.

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said the government had delivered more than 14,000 affordable homes for elderly people since coming into power.

He said: “We have made over £500million available since 2010, to support the most vulnerable in society and to guard people against the threat of homelessness.

“And we have already provided 14,000 homes for older people with more to come.”

From: The Mirror

#benefit-cuts, #cut, #cuts, #homeless, #homelessness, #pensions

Poor families’ living standards set to fall, research finds

Low-income families with one main breadwinner, single parents and out-of-work couples with children are likely to see their living standards stagnate or fall in the coming five years, according to research.


The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) , which looked at how changes announced in the summer Budget will affect people’s ability to afford a decent standard of living by 2020, also found that families with two parents in full-time work, workers without children and pensioners will typically be better off.

Pensioners will have £15 more than they need every week for a decent standard of living in 2020, the report found. Meanwhile, an out-of-work couple with two children will fall £221 short of what they need – adding up to a shortfall of around £11,000 over a year.

The amount of money non-working families with children will have by 2020 will be around half the amount they need for an adequate standard of living, whereas in 2010 they had nearly two-thirds of what they needed, the research said.

The report – Will the 2015 Summer Budget improve living standards in 2020? – uses JRF’s “minimum income standard” (MIS) to track how the living standards of households will change by 2020.

The MIS is based on what consumers believe is necessary for a minimum standard of living for people to reasonably get by, such as the ability to run a car, have access to the internet and buy a modest birthday present.

The introduction of the national living wage (NLW), which will raise the minimum wage to £9 per hour for workers aged over 25 by 2020, will drive an increase in living standards for low-paid workers without children, who by 2020 will typically have incomes close to or above what they need, it said.

Some of those who currently qualify only for small levels of support will be lifted out of the benefits system by a combination of higher wages and reduced entitlements. But most low-income families with children will see their living standards continue to stagnate or decline as reductions to in-work benefits, also announced in the summer Budget, outstrip wage rises, it said.

While most households with two parents working full-time on the NLW will be better off than they are on the national minimum wage (NMW) now, only 6% of low-income families with children have this working pattern. Families with one full-time and one part-time earner – a more common model of family life – will fall as far short of the minimum income standard in 2020 as they do now, the report found.

The JRF said that to have an adequate standard of living, parents on low incomes will both have to work full-time.

To support parents to do this, it said there should be more high quality, flexible, affordable childcare, action to create better paid, secure and flexible jobs which offer good career progression for people on low incomes, and a greater supply of affordable homes.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the JRF, said: “The national living wage is a game-changer for some on low incomes as the new higher rate will make work pay for more people.

“But the wage rise comes hand-in-hand with changes to in and out-of-work benefits. Families will only be able to make ends meet if they have two parents in full-time work, but those who are able to find extra work will face a difficult juggling act as they try and make longer hours fit around family life.”

Source- Press Association

#benefit-cuts, #charity, #cut, #cuts, #foundation, #joeseph, #living-standards, #poverty, #research, #rowntree