Food bank

Ralf Littlte knocks Block off #Conservative #NHS Privatiser and Murdoch fan boy Jeremy Hunt #Mental Health #Derbyuk #Derbyshire #Derby

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120,000 DEATHS LINKED TO #Conservative #LibDems AUSTERITY #Derbyuk #Derbyshire #Labour #Momentum #DCFC

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The Conservatives have been accused of “economic murder” for austerity policies which a new study suggests have caused 120,000 deaths.

The paper found that there were 45,000 more deaths in the first four years of Tory-led efficiencies than would have been expected if funding had stayed at pre-election levels.

On this trajectory that could rise to nearly 200,000 excess deaths by the end of 2020, even with the extra funding that has been earmarked for public sector services this year. Real terms funding for health and social care fell under the Conservative-led Coalition Government in 2010, and the researchers conclude this “may have produced” the substantial increase in deaths. The paper identified that mortality rates in the UK had declined steadily from 2001 to 2010, but this reversed sharply with the death rate growing again after austerity came in. From this reversal the authors identified that 45,368 extra deaths occurred between 2010 and 2014, than would have been expected, although it stops short of calling them “avoidable”.

Based on those trends it predicted the next five years – from 2015 to 2020 – would account for 152,141 deaths – 100 a day – findings which one of the authors likened to “economic murder”.

The Government began relaxing austerity measures this year announcing the end of its cap on public sector pay rises and announcing an extra £1.3bn for social care in the Spring Budget. Over three years the additional funding for social care is expected to reach £2bn, which Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said was “patching up a small part of the damage” wrought by £4.6bn cuts. The study, published in BMJ Open today, estimated that to return death rates to their pre-2010 levels spending would need to increase by £25.3bn. The Department of Health said “firm conclusions” cannot be drawn from this work, and independent academics warned the funding figures were “speculative”.

However local councils who have been struggling to fund care with slashed budgets urged the Government to consider the research seriously. Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Government must match Labour’s spending pledges in the Autumn Budget.

Per capita public health spending between 2001 and 2010 increased by 3.8 per cent a year, but in the first four years of the Coalition, increases were just 0.41 per cent, researchers from University College London found. In social care the annual budget increase collapsed from 2.20 per cent annually, to a decrease of 1.57 per cent. The researchers found this coincided with death rates which had decreased by around 0.77 per cent a year to 2010, beginning to increase again by 0.87 per cent a year.

And the majority of those were people reliant on social care, the paper says: “This is most likely because social care experienced greater relative spending constraints than healthcare.” It also notes that a drop in nurse numbers may have accounted for 10 per cent of deaths, concluding: “We have found that spending constraints since 2010, especially public expenditure on social care, may have produced a substantial mortality gap in England.”

The papers’ senior author and a researcher at UCL, Dr Ben Maruthappu, said that while the paper “can’t prove cause and effect” it shows an association. And he added this trend is seen elsewhere. “When you look at Portugal and other countries that have gone through austerity measures, they have found that health care provision gets worse and health care outcomes get worse,” he told The Independent. One of his co-author’s, Professor Lawrence King of the Applied Health Research Unit at Cambridge University, said it showed the damage caused by austerity

“It is now very clear that austerity does not promote growth or reduce deficits – it is bad economics, but good class politics,” he said. “This study shows it is also a public health disaster. It is not an exaggeration to call it economic murder.”

The Department of Health stressed that no such conclusion could be drawn. A spokesperson said: “As the researchers themselves note, this study cannot be used to draw any firm conclusions about the cause of excess deaths.

“The NHS is treating more people than ever before and funding is at record levels with an £8bn increase by 2020-21. We’ve also backed adult social care with £2bn investment and have 12,700 more doctors and 10,600 more nurses on our wards since May 2010.”

And independent academics added that it is hard to prove cause and effect with this kind of study even if the underlying assumptions may be correct.

Professor Martin Roland Emeritus Professor of Health Services Research, University of Cambridge said: “This study suggests that a change happened to cause deaths to stop declining around 2014. This is likely to be a correct finding. However, the link to health and social care spending is speculative as observational studies of this type can never prove cause and effect.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “We would urge government to review the evidence behind this analysis. If correct, it would clearly reinforce the desperate and urgent need to properly fund social care

Mr Ashworth, responding to the study, said: “This shocking mortality gap is a damning indictment of the dire impact which sustained Tory cuts to our NHS and social care services have had on health outcomes across the nation.

“Ahead of the Budget, this appalling news must serve as an urgent wake up call to the Prime Minister. She must match Labour’s pledge to deliver an extra £6 billion for our NHS across the next financial year to ensure the best possible quality of care is sustained for years to come.”

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The Independent: Iain Duncan Smith refuses to meet with food bank charity about poverty – then meets with investment bankers about it instead

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Iain Duncan Smith has refused to meet with Britain’s biggest food bank charity for over a year – but has instead held discussions with an American investment bank about tackling child poverty.

The Trussell Trust confirmed again today that its chairman Chris Mould had still not been granted a meeting with Iain Duncan Smith, despite reports as far back as 2013 that he had requested one.

But this week the Department for Work and Pensions disclosed under government transparency rules that Mr Duncan Smith had held a meeting about child poverty with the US investment bank JP Morgan Chase.

In May Mr Duncan Smith met with representatives of the bank at a meeting about child poverty, alongside other businesses and organisations including the British Retail Consortium, Virgin Trains, and the financial services company Legal & General.

He has still not met with the Trussell Trust’s chairman despite requests from him and “various” figures at the charity, however.

Mr Duncan Smith has previously criticised the Trust’s foodbank work and accused it of “scaremongering” over his welfare reform policies.

In a 2013 letter to the charity’s chairman Chris Mould, he criticised the “political messaging of your organisation”, which he alleged had “repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network to welfare reform”, the Observer newspaper reported at the time.

Almost 50% of referrals to food banks are because of the impact of welfare reform measures, according to statistics released by the charity.

The Trust, a Christian charity, has set up over 430 independent food banks staffed by 30,000 volunteers.

The Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson told the Independent:

“We have met with the Trussell Trust and routinely meet with a range of civil society organisations.

“The truth is, it was this Government that started signposting people to these services for the first time through Jobcentre Plus.”

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Need for food banks is caused by welfare cuts, research shows

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Need for food banks is caused by welfare cuts, research shows

Report warns that as social security safety nets become weaker, charity provision could replace state-funded schemes
, social policy editor The Guardian, Tuesday 8 April 2014 18.24 BST
A food bank in Kilburn, north London

A food bank in Kilburn, north London. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

The government’s welfare reforms, including benefit sanctions and the bedroom tax, are a central factor in the explosion in the numbers of impoverished people turning to charity food banks, an academic study has said.

The study, part of a three-year investigation into emergency food provision, was carried out by Hannah Lambie-Mumford, a Sheffield University researcher who co-authored a recently published government report into the extent of food aid in the UK.

That report concluded there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate a clear causal link between welfare reform and food bank demand in the UK. But Lambie-Mumford’s new study, to be published on Wednesday, says the rise in demand for charity food is a clear signal “of the inadequacy of both social security provision and the processes by which it is delivered”.

The report warns that as social security safety nets become weaker, there is a danger that charity food could become an integral part of the state welfare provision, or even an replacement for formerly state-funded emergency welfare schemes.

Lambie-Mumford’s study was based on 25 in-depth interviews with a range of food bank staff and volunteers in 2012 and 2013 and found many food banks were adapting to demand by scaling up food collection and storage provision “to accommodate the future trajectory of need”.

Her paper will be presented to an all-party committee of MPs which meets on Wednesday to finalise the terms of an inquiry into hunger and food poverty. The inquiry will examine the rise of food banks, an issue that has become politically charged as ministers attempt to deflect criticism that austerity policies, including welfare cuts, have had the effect of compelling more people on low incomes to rely on food aid.

Lambie-Mumford said her research showed that food banks were expanding to meet rising demand caused in part by a squeeze on welfare entitlements which made already poor people even worse off. This was compounded by inadequate processing of social security claims, including payment delays and “arbitrary and unfair” sanctioning decisions that left claimants without any income at all. There were other factors which had contributed to the rise of food banks, such as low wages and the rise in the cost of food. But it was important that MPs did not duck or underplay the importance of welfare reform. “The tricky thing is that welfare reform is the most political aspect of a political issue. But we should not shy away from it for this reason,” she said.

The welfare minister Lord Freud notoriously claimed last year that more people were going to food banks because the food was free, thereby triggering “almost infinite demand”. Last month Freud admitted people did not turn up “willingly” at food banks but said it was “very hard to know why” they did go.

The Trussell trust, which oversees a network of more than 400 food banks in the UK, has insisted repeatedly that welfare reform is the biggest driver of demand for food parcels. Its third-quarter data, published in March, showed that it helped 614,000 people in the first nine months of this year. Its final-year figures, expected next week, are likely to show that demand has more than doubled in the past 12 months. More than eight out of 10 food bank managers interviewed for the study acknowledged the impact of welfare changes and welfare processes as a factor in driving demand.

A DWP spokesperson said: “This report, which is based on just 25 interviews, fails to consider how welfare reforms are helping people off benefits and into jobs. The truth is that we now have record numbers of people in work, the highest employment rate for five years, and falling unemployment.” A DWP spokesman later added that the report “gave a one-sided view”.

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Disabled people ‘feel terrorised’

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February 27, 2014 2:00 pm

Disabled people ‘feel terrorised’

Disabled people feel terrorised by the Government’s welfare policies and want the truth on how their lives have been affected, MPs have heard.

John McDonnell has criticised the impact of the Government's welfare reforms.
John McDonnell has criticised the impact of the Government’s welfare reforms.
A petition started by comedian Francesca Martinez, who has cerebral palsy, attracted 104,741 signatures to trigger a Commons debate, which called for an independent assessment of the coalition’s welfare system changes.

Excess deaths of welfare claimants, Universal Credit’s IT roll out, the use of Atos to conduct work capability assessments and the Remploy factory closures are among the issues in need of investigation, according to a motion from Labour’s John McDonnell.

The MP for Hayes and Harlington said many people felt “hounded” just for being disabled.

Moving the debate, Mr McDonnell told the Commons: ” We met some of the campaigners this morning. Some of them said these expressions: ‘Do they realise that many of us feel terrorised by what the Government is doing?’

“One disabled campaigner said to me: ‘Can you tell them that they call their programme fulfilling our potential but we feel many us of simply won’t survive this round of cuts. A generation is going to be lost.’

“That’s why the central demand of this petition is very straightforward. Today’s motion is to call in essence for a cumulative impact assessment of all the welfare changes that have been introduced by this Government.

“And the argument they’ve put forward is if politicians and society only knew the full effect of these changes on the lives of disabled people and their families surely they would not let this happen in a civilised society.

To read the full article click here

It turns out that benefits street is populated by rich people

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It turns out that benefits street is populated by rich people

Wealthy private landlords are being exposed as the new face of the benefits scrounger taking Britain for a ride
 theguardian.com, Tuesday 25 February 2014 12.52 GMT
The Duke of Westminster.

‘The Duke of Westminster, whose Grosvenor Group scoops £243,000 in taxpayer handouts.’ Photograph: David Gamble/TopFoto

Another day, another couple of front page headlines damning benefit scroungers. Except today? Today is different. The claimant-bashing Tory MP Peter Bone is apparently under investigation for an alleged housing benefit fraud relating to his mother’s care home costs. Over at the Mirror, the Queen and Prince of Wales are revealed to be reaping a fortune in publicly subsidised rent payments to their privately held property empires. I have to admit, for a snarky Guardian writer tasked with sharing First Thoughts on the day’s breaking news, this is all just too good to be true.

Bone, it must be stressed, fully denies the allegations, and legal formalities forbid comment. The Mirror’s scoop comes as part of an extensive research exercise with the GMB union and is gleaned from freedom of information requests. It is understandable that the Royals grab the headlines – these payments represent a little cherry on top of the whole cake of the civil list and personal wealth that fund a lavish lifestyle of privilege earned only through accident of birth. But appropriately enough, they feature here as merely the salient symbols of a system that is rotten. The full list of private landlords growing rich from taxpayers’ handouts is like a who’s who of the landed aristocracy, the great and the good. There is the Duke of Westminster, inevitably – the eighth richest person in Britain – whose Grosvenor Group scoops £243,000. Ninth Baronet Sir Richard Sutton is grabbing £68,000, a paltry sum compared with the £195,000 paid to Lord Robert Iliffe. And a Tory politician, Richard Benyon MP, with a personal wealth of £110m, is bringing in pocket money of £626,000 per year in housing benefit.

Elsewhere, less illustrious and notable names are doing quite nicely out of the system too. Faceless corporations with addresses in the Cayman Islands or Guernsey, of course. Or those who mine gold from the grimmest depths of poverty, such as the owners of one hotel in Glasgow, who claimed over £1.5m from housing the homeless in squalid, rat-infested rooms.

Nobody knows exactly how much of the nation’s benefits bills goes directly to private landlords. One recent estimate put the bill at £35bn over three years. The situation is largely a consequence of a degraded social housing stock that can be traced back to the right-to-buy policy and the liberalisation of the rental sector of the 1980s. Whereas once council housing served to keep housing affordable, and rent controls and protected tenancies acted as buffers for those in the private sector, the open market has led to galloping costs, creating a direct river of cash that flows direct from the less wealthy taxpayers to the wealthy and – all too often – the tax evader. Meanwhile, the one available tax policy that would have a chance of recouping some of this vast wealth – a land value tax – remains mysteriously unpopular with political parties.

To read full Guardian article click here