Rough sleepers denied access to healthcare, pushing them into ‘repeat cycles of homelessness’, study says

Rough sleepers denied access to healthcare, pushing them into ‘repeat cycles of homelessness’, study says

Homeless people are being denied access to basic healthcare, according to research which suggests “perceived stigma and discrimination” in health settings are pushing people with no fixed abode into “repeat cycles of homelessness” and causing “unnecessary deaths”.

A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham found homeless people were being denied registration at GP surgeries and discharged from hospital onto the streets with no referral to primary care providers.

Mental health and substance misuse services were also deemed to be excluding those with the greatest need, with entry thresholds to these services said to “actively obstruct” patients who were self-harming, including those with recent suicide attempts.

The study, based on 22 interviews with homeless adults across four sites shelters, found that participants reported inequality in access in mainstream health services, with most facing negative experiences.

Most identified the absence of a “fixed abode” as the largest barrier to registering at a mainstream general practice where both proof of address and photo identification were often requested by the frontline staff.

People with mental health conditions and substance misuse said they had been told they were not able to receive support until they addressed their substance misuse issue, placing them in a “vicious cycle”.

To read the rest of the article go to the Independent

Health is everyone's business: Proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss

Health is everyone’s business: Proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss

Deadline 7th October

This consultation seeks views on different ways in which government and employers can take action to reduce ill health-related job loss. Disabled people and people with long-term health conditions are at greater risk of falling out of work.

The proposals aim to support and encourage early action by employers for their employees with long-term health conditions, and improve access to quality, cost-effective occupational health.

The Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Health and Social Care want to understand the effect of these proposals on:

  • business
  • individuals
  • the occupational health profession

For more information and to take part go to the Government website

Working parents facing holiday childcare bill of up to £800 

Working parents facing holiday childcare bill of up to £800 

Holiday childcare prices have risen by 3% in Britain since last summer, bringing the average parents now pay for one week of holiday childcare to £138 – more than double the price parents pay for after-school clubs during term time.

The Coram Family and Childcare’s 15th annual Holiday Childcare Survey, the country’s most comprehensive survey of holiday childcare costs, reveals that working parents will have to find £828 on average for six weeks of holiday childcare per child. This means families have to find an extra £484 to cover the summer holidays compared to term time childcare.

This can be a huge financial pressure for low income families who rely on Universal Credit to help with their childcare costs, as this support is paid in arrears meaning they have to find the money to cover these higher costs up front, pushing many into debt.

Parents also face a ‘postcode lottery’ with huge variation in the costs of holiday childcare across the country. Holiday childcare costs are highest in the South East, at an average of £162 per week per child, 37% higher than the North West, where childcare costs are lowest, at £119 per week. There are large differences even between neighbouring regions – for example holiday childcare costs are 21% higher in the North East (£144) compared to the North West (£119).

In addition to rising costs, the survey also highlights the substantial gaps in the availability of holiday childcare, as only one in three (31%) local authorities in England reports having enough holiday childcare for all parents in their area who work full time. This gap is even bigger for parents of children with disabilities, with less than a fifth (17%) of local authorities able to provide enough holiday childcare to meet their needs.

Coram Family and Childcare is calling for urgent Government reform on school age childcare to address the acute shortages and improve existing support for families. The Government introduced a ‘right to request’ policy in 2016 which allows parents to request that their child’s school provides childcare or opens up their facilities for another provider to do so. However, today’s research reveals that just 4% of local authorities say this policy has had a positive effect on the availability of holiday childcare – a figure that remains unchanged since last summer.

You can read the report as an online pdf here

Domestic Abuse Bill introduced to Parliament

Domestic Abuse Bill introduced to Parliament

The government’s Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced in Parliament on 16th July, signalling a major step forward in transforming the response to this crime.

The Bill is the most comprehensive package ever presented to Parliament to tackle domestic abuse, both supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Following extensive work with stakeholders and charities, the government carried out a public consultation on measures to be included in the Bill that saw more than 3,200 responses.

A draft of the Bill was published in January and has undergone extensive scrutiny by a Joint Committee of cross party MPs and Peers as part of the government’s collaborative approach to ensure this historic legislation is correct. The Committee published a report on the draft bill in June and made a set of recommendations which the government has considered carefully.

Measures in the Bill include:

  • introducing the first ever statutory government definition of domestic abuse, which will include economic abuse
  • establishing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner to champion victims and survivors
  • introducing new Domestic Abuse Protection Notices and Domestic Abuse Protection Orders to further protect victims and place restrictions on the actions of offenders
  • prohibiting the cross-examination of victims by their abusers in the family courts
  • providing automatic eligibility for special measures to support more victims to give evidence in the criminal courts

For more information go to the Government website

Children to have greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of physical activity every day

Children to have greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of physical activity every day

Children will have a greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity, whether that be in school, after school or during weekends and holidays, under new Government plans recently revealed

The School Sport and Activity Action Plan, outlined by Education Secretary Damian Hinds, Sport Minister Mims Davies and Minister for Public Health, Seema Kennedy, will set out a range of new measures to strengthen the role of sport within a young person’s daily routine, explain how teachers and parents can play their part, and promote a joined-up approach to physical activity and mental wellbeing.

It comes after the latest data from Sport England’s Active Lives Children and Young People survey showed that a third of children are currently doing fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

Ofsted’s new Inspection Framework comes into effect from September 2019. As Amanda Spielman, HM Chief Inspector of Education, said last weekend: “Schools that offer children a broad, balanced education, including plenty of opportunities to get active during the school day and through extracurricular activities, will be rewarded under our new inspection regime.”

As part of the plan, the Government has committed to launch a series of regional pilots to trial innovative approaches to getting more young people active, particularly less active groups such as girls and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Schools and sports clubs will also work together to share their facilities and expertise, giving more pupils access to character-building competitive sport and volunteering opportunities. They will focus on ensuring boys and girls have an equal and coordinated offer of sport, competition and activity, including modern PE lessons and access to high-quality clubs and competitions after school and during weekends and holidays.

For more information go to the Government website

Criminal record reform to help ex-offenders into work

Criminal record reform to help ex-offenders into work

Ex-offenders striving to turn their lives around through work will be backed by new legislation changing what they must disclose to employers.

For the first time, some sentences of over four years will no longer have to be disclosed to employers after a specified period of time has passed. This change will not apply where offences attract the most serious sentences, including life, or for serious sexual, violent and terrorism offences.

Regular work is a major factor in breaking the cycle of crime but many ex-offenders find it impossible to get a job, with just 17% in employment a year after release from prison, and as half of employers would not consider hiring an ex-offender.

In addition to the rule change for longer sentences over four years, the period of time for which shorter sentences and community sentences have to be revealed to employers will be scaled back. The exact length of these ‘rehabilitation periods’ will be determined following discussions with stakeholders.

For more information go to the Government website

New public health duty to tackle serious violence

New public health duty to tackle serious violence

A new ‘public health duty’ will cover the police, local councils, local health bodies such as NHS Trusts, education representatives and youth offending services. It will ensure that relevant services work together to share data, intelligence and knowledge to understand and address the root causes of serious violence including knife crime. It will also allow them to target their interventions to prevent and stop violence altogether.

In addition, the government will amend the Crime and Disorder Act to ensure that serious violence is an explicit priority for Community Safety Partnerships, which include local police, fire and probation services, by making sure they have a strategy in place to tackle violent crime.

This new public health duty has been created taking into account responses from professionals in health, education, police, social services, housing and the voluntary sector after an eight-week public consultation.

The new duty will hold organisations to account as opposed to individual teachers, nurses or other frontline professionals.

It does not mean burdening them with police work, but is designed to build on existing responsibilities and local arrangements to protect young people by ensuring they work together.

New guidance will also be published in due course to support the legislation, which will provide examples of different partnership models and explain how different organisations and sectors can partner with each other.

For more information go to the Government website

You can read the response of the Children’s Commissioner here

Destitution on the rise, say frontline family support workers

Destitution on the rise, say frontline family support workers

Applications for Buttle UK’s Chances for Children grants come from a unique network of frontline support workers who are interacting with the most vulnerable children and young people across the UK on a daily basis.

These individuals include family support workers, community project workers, social workers, health visitors, school careers advisors, probation officers, advocacy/advisors, youth workers, community nurses, tutors and head teachers. They work for organisations such as local authorities / councils, charities, housing associations, advice services, local healthcare trust partnerships, primary and secondary schools and children’s centres.

Buttle UK surveyed support workers to find out about their current experiences of working with children in poverty. While all these individuals are used to seeing child poverty on a daily basis, their feedback illustrates the extent of some of the challenges that families are currently facing.

They had over 1,200 responses, making this an extremely comprehensive survey.

Results have highlighted just how often children are having to survive without the basics:

  • 60% of support workers are often (i.e. more than once a week) seeing families who are unable to afford the basics (food, household items, fuel).
  • 50% of support workers are often seeing children fed breakfast and/or dinner at school because families cannot afford to feed them themselves.
  • 48% of support workers are seeing families unable to afford the costs of children’s clothes and shoes.

Particular concerns with the summer holidays coming up are:

  • 65% are seeing families unable to afford / have no access to holiday activities.
  • 53% are seeing families unable to afford food and childcare during the holidays.

Support workers report that 54% of families being supported are living in destitution, and nearly three quarters of these support workers (74%) have seen an increase in the number in the last year.

49% of support workers see families who are working but are not earning enough to make ends meetmore than once a week, and 21% of workers see this problem on a daily basis.

18% of support workers have seen an increase in the number of families needing financial support when at least two people in the household are working, and 39% have seen an increase where one person in the family is working.

Nearly 100% said they saw families experience issues of rising debt, delays due to Universal Credit and cuts to welfare services to some extent, but 30% reported they see families experiencing all of these problems on a daily basis.

To read more go to Buttle UK

Government to launch new modern slavery research centre

Government to launch new modern slavery research centre

Efforts to uncover the true scale of modern slavery, expose more trafficking networks and better inform our action to stamp out these crimes have been boosted today following the government’s investment of £10 million to create a cutting-edge Policy and Evidence Centre for Modern Slavery and Human Rights.

The new research centre, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund and led by UKRI’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), will bring together academics, businesses and charities to drive forward new studies, share knowledge, and improve collaboration both at home and overseas, to further strengthen our response.

The announcement comes as the government publishes its response to the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act and launches a consultation on strengthening and improving transparency in supply chains legislation.

The independent review, which was published on 22 May, praised the “ground-breaking” Modern Slavery Act and made a number of recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of the act.

For more information go to the Government website

It’s not right that four million disabled people are locked in poverty

It’s not right that four million disabled people are locked in poverty

From the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)

The scale of poverty among disabled people and their families is undermining our society’s shared values of compassion and justice, says Helen Barnard in her blog:

In our country we believe in taking care of one another and protecting each other from harm – so it’s simply unacceptable that 3.8 million disabled adults and 300,000 disabled children are trapped in poverty; and that over 3 in 10 disabled people live in poverty compared to only 2 in 10 non-disabled people.

Disabled people are held back from a decent living standard by many different constraints:

  • They are less likely to have a job, despite many being keen to work. The difference in employment rates among disabled and non-disabled people has narrowed slightly in the last few years – but it is still very large; only around half of disabled people are in work, compared with over 8 in 10 non-disabled people.
  • Work can’t be relied on to deliver a good living standard. Disabled people are less likely to have higher qualifications and they are more likely to be low paid, even when they do have good qualifications.
  • Finding and sustaining work that can be fitted around fluctuating health conditions or medical appointments can be very challenging.
  • Many disabled people also face higher costs, for equipment or appliances, heating bills, travel and many other parts of life.  The benefits intended to help with these additional costs often don’t fully cover them, leaving people facing higher deprivation than non-disabled people with a similar income.

Research from the Social Metrics Commission shows that nearly half of all people locked in poverty in the UK are disabled themselves or live with someone who is. It also shows that disabled people are disproportionately likely to be stuck in persistent poverty – trapped for years with few opportunities to escape.

To read the full blog go to the JRF