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More people than ever turning to food banks, charity says

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New data released on 13th November shows April to September 2019 to be the busiest half-year period for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network since the charity opened. During the six months, 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis in the UK; more than a third of these (301,653) went to children.

This is a 23% increase on the same period in 2018 – the sharpest rate of increase the charity has seen for the past five years.

The main reasons for people needing emergency food are low benefit income (36%), and delays (18%) or changes (16%) to benefits being paid.

The new figures come just a week after the Trussell Trust released State of Hunger, the most in-depth study ever published into hunger and the drivers of food bank use in the UK.

You can find more information about the statistics here

Funding for adult social care in crisis

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From the Independent

Councils will need billions of pounds in extra funding to meet the rising costs of adult social care, even if council tax increases at double the rate of inflation, a new report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warns.

A growing elderly population and a rise in the number of disabled adults mean English councils will need an additional £4bn a year from the government by the end of the parliament just to maintain social care services at current levels and stop further cut backs on other services such as children’s social care and housing, the report predicts.

It finds that government measures intended to alleviate the problem – including an additional £1.3bn in funding for councils next year and allowing councils with social care responsibilities to increase council tax by up to 4 per cent – could be just a “lull in the storm”.

You can read the full article here

You can read the IFS report here

Gigabit broadband voucher scheme 

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Government funding for installing gigabit-capable broadband is now available for some of the hardest-to-reach rural places in the UK through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Gigabit vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit-capable connection. Businesses can claim up to £2,500 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth £500 as part of a group project.

Check whether you are likely to be eligible for the rural gigabit voucher and search for a registered supplier by looking up your postcode on the website

A Review of the Youth Rates of the National Minimum Wage

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This report is the conclusion of the Low Pay Commission’s two year review of the National Minimum Wage rates for under 25s.

Overall, the Review concluded that the evidence supports extending the NLW to workers aged 21-24. They believe this can be achieved without harming their employment prospects, provided that employers are given sufficient advance notice so that they can prepare.

But because the evidence indicates a difference in the labour market position of 21 to 22 year olds and those aged 23 and over, a two-step approach is recommended .

Under this approach the Government would announce this autumn that the age of eligibility for the NLW will be 23 from April 2021, along with a commitment to reduce the threshold to 21 at a later date.

The LPC will then review the evidence and advise the Government in October 2022 on the appropriate timetable for the next step.

You can read the full report here

They have also published two pieces of research commissioned to support the review. You can read them here

‘Locked in extreme poverty’: landmark research shows households at food banks have only £50 a week to live on

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Commissioned by the Trussell Trust and conducted by Heriot-Watt University, State of Hunger 2019 is the most authoritative piece of independent research into hunger in the UK to date. It reveals the average weekly income of people at food banks is only £50 after paying rent, and almost one in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food.

  • 94% of people at food banks are destitute
  • Almost three-quarters of people at food banks live in households affected by ill-health or disability
  • 22% of people at food banks are single parents – compared to 5% in the UK population**
  • More than three-quarters of people referred to food banks were in arrears

The first annual report of a three-year long research project, it shows definitively for the first time the three drivers hitting people simultaneously and leaving no protection from hunger and poverty. These drivers are problems with the benefits system, ill health and challenging life experiences, and a lack of local support.

For more information go to the Trussell Trust website

Charity Awards 2020 open for entries

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Deadline 7th February 2020

The Charity Awards, the longest-running awards ceremony in the sector, has opened for applications in its 21st year.

Organised by Civil Society Media, the Charity Awards identifies charities which have original and effective ideas that the rest of the sector can learn from, and is open to any type of project or initiative from charities in the UK.

Ten individual awards are given for charities working in different sectors before an overall winner is selected by the judges. On the night one individual is celebrated for their contribution to the charity sector.

The Awards provide a perfect opportunity for you to propel your charity’s work into the spotlight, to influence policymakers and funders, and to showcase the quality of your interventions.

Entries will be judged by a panel of sector experts against the six Hallmarks of Excellence.

You can find out more here

The detention of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism 

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In its most recent report, Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) condemns the “horrific reality” of conditions and treatment under which many young people with learning disabilities and autism are detained in mental health hospitals, “inflicting terrible suffering on those detained and causing anguish to their distraught families”.  

Evidence to the inquiry into the detention of young people with learning disabilities and/or autism was so “stark” and consistent that the Committee says it has “lost confidence that the system is doing what it says it is doing and the regulator’s method of checking is not working. It has been left to the media, notably the BBC and Ian Birrell in the Mail on Sunday, to expose abuse. No-one thinks this is acceptable.”   


You can read the news release here

You can read the full report as an online pdf here (66 pages)

In relation to the Care Quality Commission, the Committee finds that “a regulator which gets it wrong is worse than no regulator at all”. 

The CQC said it had been open about the need to change its assessment of mental health wards and since October 2018 had rated 14 independent mental health hospitals as inadequate.  This is highlighted in the CQC State of Health and Social Care, published on 15th October, and published this report 

New supporting information for inspectors and Mental Health Act reviewers addresses the risk factors of closed environments on 1st November

Access to Transport and Life Opportunities

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This report presents the findings from a study conducted by NatCen and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT) to investigate how access to transport affects the life opportunities and wellbeing of people living in England. This has provided new evidence that access to public and private transport has wide-ranging positive impacts on people’s lives.

There are two parts to the study:

  • Part 1: Understanding variations in transport access and use across the population
  • Part 2: Understanding how transport access affects life opportunities and wellbeing

You can read the report as an online pdf here

Transport, health, and wellbeing: An evidence review for the Department for Transport

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This evidence review was conducted to develop an understanding of the current knowledge base on the relationships between transport and health and wellbeing.

Key findings include:

  • There are three key themes within the wider topic of transport and health: physical health, mental health and wellbeing, and noise

There are three main mechanisms that link transport and health and wellbeing:

  • Transport and access: Transport plays a key role in improving access to health services, particularly for vulnerable groups like older people.
  • Mode of transport: Mode of transport affects physical and mental health, via mechanisms including physical activity and commuting time.
  • Wider effects of transport and infrastructure: Transport can facilitate social interactions and promote social inclusion.

You can read the report as an online pdf here