Blog Archive

April 2014

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    Young people being treated for substance abuse

    Freedom of Information requests have revealed hundreds of young people are at risk of becoming addicts or have begun abusing alcohol and substances themselves, leaving many charities requesting improved education in schools. The referrals either mean the child is vulnerable to drug and alcohol misuse through exposure from a relative or have begun abusing on their own. The most common reason is...

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    Poor social care for older people sees sacking and suspensions in one care home

    Filming at the Old Deanery in Essex has revealed that some residents were being taunted, roughly handled and one was even slapped. The home has said it was "shocked and saddened by the allegations".Secret filming by the BBC's Panorama has discovered, through an undercover reporter over 36 shifts, that: •         a woman slapped by a care worker who had previously been complained about...

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    The number of rough sleepers in London continues to rise

    The number of people sleeping on the capital's streets in the first quarter of 2014 rose by 8% in comparison to the same period last year. This left 2,029 people without shelter, reports 24dash. Housing charity Crisis is calling on the Mayor of London and the government to take urgent action to stop further rises by reversing damaging housing benefit cuts alongside building more homes and...

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    Facebook allows you experience dementia with new app

    The FaceDementia app has been created by Alzheimer's Research UK and "takes over" your personal Facebook page and temporarily erases important memories, mimicking the ways dementia affects your brain. You will watch your personal photos, important details and status updates begin to disappear, whilst your real page remains intact, reports the BBC. The app doesn't hold on to any data or affect...

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    Welfare reforms pushing poorest families out of the capital

    The number of people claiming housing benefits in the private rented sector has fallen by almost a quarter since March 2011 in Kensington and Chelsea and almost a third in Westminster.Changes to local housing allowances came into force for new claimants in April 2011 and have applied to existing claimants since 2013. The reforms set LHA rates at a lower level with reduced rates for single people...

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    Charities say changes to special needs education are being made too fast

    As of September special needs statements will be replaced by "education, health and care statements" which hopes to give more holistic support, reports the BBC.The government said the system would allow change to "take place gradually". Mark Lever of the National Autistic Society said details of "the biggest reform of the SEN system in 30 years" had not yet been finalised. He told BBC Radio 5...

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    The use of homelessness services in the UK

    Key Points:Bed spaces are down by 3% from last year33% of homeless people are staying at services as there is nowhere suitable for them to goNearly a third of day centres had an increase in their funding from fundraising...

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    Mental health patients moved to bed and breakfasts to free up beds

    Barnet Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, which is London based, has seen the cost of moving discharged patients into B&Bs rise from £46,000 in 2012/13 to £264,00 in the ten months to January this year. The use of B&Bs has been revealed in a Freedom of Information response which also shows and 11-fold rise in the trust's bill for placing patients with private providers, reports the Local...

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    Health of homeless showcased in new report

    The report, commissioned by the Nottinghamshire County Public Health Directorate, is based on 349 responses from individuals through focus group meetings and a series of one-to-one interviews. It found that each of the respondents reported having three or more separate heath needs, which includes 74% having mental health problem with only 31% having a diagnosis. 18% reported having an alcohol...

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    Region worst hit by welfare reforms set to lose an estimated £29m

    Research undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University has revealed that Northern Ireland will be the UK region worst hit by welfare reforms, meaning an average estimate will total £750m annually.It is estimated that within the Newtownabbey Borough Council area each working age adult will lose a total of £550 per annum, reports Newtownabbey Today.  More in depth analysis reveals that people...

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    ‘Biggest ever' social housing tenants survey to take place

    The Tenant Survey has been designed to provide a "decisive snapshot of tenant opinion." It plans to use its HomeSwapper mutual exchange service, which gives it access to over 850,000 tenants, to send out a 20-question survey over the course of two weeks in May, reports 24dash. With a potentially large number of responses, the company says that its findings will not only be "statistically...

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    Mental health staff in Norfolk are put under high pressure due to heavy caseloads

    After officials from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust have raised concerns about pressures on staff after patients were waiting too long to see a mental health worker in central Norfolk.The NHS trust's board of directors has said that higher than predicted demand for adult community services in Norwich and Norfolk with low staffing levels has resulted in 379 cases out of 2,579 awaiting to...

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    Survey finds funding pressures hit support for the homeless

    Homeless Link's annual review of the homeless support sector has found that almost one in ten homelessness projects had restricted the support they offer to people with the most complex of needs over the past year, reports Community Care. The report also found that 91% of accommodation projects had refused access to people assessed as too high-risk in the last year compared to 79% in the year...

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    1,800 Cambridgeshire households have been hit by ‘Bedroom Tax'

    Research by the charity Oxfam has suggested that claimants in Cambridgeshire are suffering more than the average household affected by reforms in the East of England, reports Cambridge News. Oxfam has said that 2,600 families have been affected in Suffolk, losing an average of £14.50 a week with 3,300 households in Herefordshire losing an average of £18.20.Oxfam said the cuts were on top of...

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    Older people in need of care will soon be higher than relatives available to help

    It is predicted that within four years 800,000 people may be in need of care with 20,000 having no family to care for them. By 2030 there will be 2 million people aged over 65 without adult children to look after them which has increased from 1.2m in 20102. The report suggests that by 2030 230,000 older people in England who need over 20 hours of care a week will be left without any family able...

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    MPs criticise asylum housing scheme management

    The Public Accounts Committee has said that the Home Office scheme has resulted in asylum seekers being places in "unacceptable poor" housing due to being "badly managed", reports the BBC. The Home Office said, while it accepted there were "challenges" with contracts, it was "disappointed" by the findings. "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and providing...

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    Housing benefit claims are processed over a week late

    New housing benefit claims should be processed within fourteen days by councils; however figures that have been issued by the DWP reveal the average claim takes 22 days to go through. This is slightly better than last year where the average time was 23 days, reports Inside Housing.A report, that has been commissioned by the government highlighted that benefit delays is a major reason for people...

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    Suffers of mental health issues in Oxford could benefit from new sporting project

    Sport England has given money to Oxfordshire Sports Partnership for a project called Active Body, Health Mind, which hopes to help over 1,200 county people with mental health problems take up a range of sports.The project will run for three years and provide group activities for people with mental health issues where they already meet, such as at charity Restore in Manzil Way, Oxford, reports the...

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    Social housing homes four times more likely to occur overcrowding

    Overcrowding was most common in socially rented homes at 8.7% of the overall social home registered.Data analysts for the ONS have said they believe the prevalence of overcrowding in rented accommodation could be due to affordability, with renters remaining in smaller accommodation to save for a mortgage and with many suitable rental accommodations being unavailable reports Inside Housing.Over...

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    Report finds welfare reform places UK's poorest families into deeper poverty

    The joint report by Oxfam and the New Policy Institute highlights a drop in the overall value of benefits, which rose by less than inflation, alongside changes to housing benefit and council tax support that have forced many families into paying for housing costs which were previously deemed too poor to pay. Together those changes have meant that 1.75 million of the poorest families have seen a...

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    Young people refused access to mental health facilities

    The Care Quality Commission has found that 56 out of 161 facilities, which includes hospitals, will not admit people under the age of sixteen and half of them ban under seventeens. The watchdog has said a worrying number of young people now end up in police cells, reports the BBC.The CQC has said that people who suffer a mental health crisis in a public place should be taken to a place of safety...

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    Social landlord sees arrears drop thanks to bedroom tax preparations

    Social landlord, Orbit, has had almost 2,500 homes hit by the bedroom tax with 167 homes having their benefits reduced as a consequence of exceeding the overall weekly cap. Orbit has said that its work on addressing the changes to the benefit system has reduced arrears by around £210,000 while 275 ‘under-occupiers' have successfully been down-sized, reports 24dash.Orbit provides 38,000 homes...

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    Financial worries for social housing tenants

    The charity Turn2us, who help people access benefits and financial help, has surveyed 2,008 adults on incomes of £25,000 or less. Of this number 65% of the 308 social tenants surveyed said their financial situation has worsened over the last year, reports Inside Housing. Released to coincide with Turn2us' annual Benefits Awareness Month, the survey has revealed that on average people living in...

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    Success for scheme helping the homeless in Glasgow

    "Housing First" allocates rented flats to homeless addicts and alcoholics, without insisting they go through rehabilitation first. It aims to give them support to live independently and recover from their addictions, reports the BBC. The pilot in Glasgow is part of a larger European scheme being carried out across ten countries. This new support model is based on the theory that people are...

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    Court fees for rent arrears eviction cases set to increase by 150%

    Currently the standard county court fee for a rent arrears possession case is £100, however from 22nd April; it will increase to £250, reports 24dash. Initially the costs are met by the landlord, but are then included on top of the tenant's rent arrears.Bedroom tax campaigners are accusing the government of loading more  misery on to tenants hit by the under-occupancy policy.According to...

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    Report finds disabled people pay a penalty on everyday costs

    The costs derive from needs for specialist equipment and having to pay out for things like taxis instead of public transport. On average people with disabilities are £100,000 worse off when it comes to pensions and savings. Priced Out, the report, features data from the DWP and organisations including the London School of Economics, Save the Children and the National Housing Federation, reports...

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    Chairman reveals how bedroom tax savings will be used

    The former housing minister has been defending the under-occupancy policy, which has caused a lot of controversy, in his constituency of Welwyn Hatfield where rent arrears have soared by 60% since its introduction a year ago. It is said to be the first time a senior member of the coalition has outlined how the money from the bedroom tax well be spent by the government, reports 24dash.Speaking to...

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    Almost four million families are living on a ‘knife edge' toward homelessness

    Homelessness charity Shelter has carried out an investigation by surveying 7,500 rent and mortgage payers and found that 44% of those questioned (the equivalent of 3.8million families) were one paycheque away from being unable to pay their rent or mortgage, due to little or no savings to fall back on.The findings were based on YouGov survey which was carried out at the end of March. Shelter says...

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    Eviction ‘awareness training' by one social landlord

    Red Kite Community Housing is giving tenants who have been served with a notice of seeking possession and who are not acting in line with their tenancy the opportunity to take part in a two-hour course instead, reports 24dash. The social landlord provides 6,700 homes and believes it is best that tenants get a second chance, rather than having them evicted from their homes.The course will see...

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    Mental health boss says suffers will get improved care

    Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust's Stuart Bell spoke at the first National Psychosis Summit for NHS leaders on Thursday, reports the Oxford Mail.He told the London event: "Oxford Health NHS Trust is absolutely committed to making sure people with mental health problems get the same standard of care as those with physical illnesses. We're always looking for new ideas for how we can do things...

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    Disability charity says welfare reforms are punishing those with vulnerabilities

    The advice service of Diverse Abilities Plus, has said that reforms to the support provided for housing costs and the household benefit cap, which includes the social sector size criteria, are affecting those with disabilities and vulnerabilities who are not the originally intended targets. However, they are unlikely to be able to change their circumstance without help from the government,...

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    Support for tenants in sheltered housing on accommodation and tenancy due to new Wellbeing Service

    Weekly meetings are planned to be held throughout the district so that tenants of sheltered housing are able to raise any queries about their accommodation or tenancy through face-to-face opportunities.SKDC's Head of Housing and Neighbourhoods, Ian Richardson, said: "The meetings have been well attended so far and we are working closely with the new providers, the Lincs Independent Living...

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    £50m scheme sees GP's offering out of hours appointments and Skype check-ups

    In October the prime minister unveiled the £50m scheme due to fears of too many people turning up to A&E when appointments with GP's were unattainable, meaning too much pressure was placed on emergency departments. Doctors were invited to apply for funding and the money means that seven million patients at over 1,100 practises will see the trials begin over the next month.Labour, however has...

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    Free access to house swapping scheme for residents

    Due to the rising need for people to downsize their homes due to welfare reforms reducing their housing benefit, one housing association is allowing its tenants free access to a home exchange site.The website has almost a quarter of a million homes available for exchange from across the UK. House Exchange is run by Circle Housing, is a not-for-profit service which pairs up prospective partners...

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    New health and social care plan in Lancashire

    In the Lancashire Better Care Fund plan, it highlights how Lancashire County Council, NHS England, NHS clinical commission groups, district councils and other organisations will work together to provide better services to residents. In the plan it says how organisations can meet challenges currently affecting health and social care, which includes an aging population, widening health gaps between...

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    One social landlord's ‘bedroom tax beating' development

    Families are now being able to move into smaller and more affordable one and two-bedroom properties in Birkenhead. After realising the bedroom tax was affecting smaller families, the Regenda Group changed its original plans for its Waverly Court development and concentrated on creating 18 one and two bedroom house, apartments and bungalows instead, reports 24dash.One family said: "I couldn't have...

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    £5bn integration funding for health and social care

    Care and support minister, Norman Lamb, has informed a social care conference that the governments £3.8bn ‘Better Care Fund' would be supplemented by further funding from local authorities and clinical commissioning groups, reports the Guardian."Local areas have chosen to be more ambitious, to pool more of their budgets than we had asked them to," said Lamb. "This has to be the start of a...

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    Confusion by universal credit means landlords stop renting to welfare recipients

    In February the BPF surveyed 102 landlords with 34% owning over ten properties. The study found that 39% of landlords were in a state of confusion on how the universal credit policy will impact rent arrears and consequently intend to rent to fewer welfare tenants.The BPF has warned that landlord groups, NGOs and the government should all act to reduce the uncertainty of the impact of universal...

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    Charity says cuts to mental health services cost the NHS millions

    In the report, published with the London School of Economics, Rethink Mental Illness reveal that it is becoming a common occurrence for cases of psychosis and schizophrenia now ending up in hospital rather than being treated in the community.Cuts have meant that less people receive access to early intervention treatment, such as talking therapy, Rethink said.  They say if the NHS shifts their...

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    Committee of MPs accuse the government of "hampering" its scrutiny of Universal Credit

    The government, however, has said that it has given "regular updates" to MPs and its plans were being implemented in a "slow, controlled and safe" fashion, reports BBC.In the latest report by the cross-party committee it says that there remains a "worrying uncertainty" over the computer systems being developed to implement the reforms.Problems with IT systems underpinning the project came to...

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    New reports look into the impact of welfare reform

    The first report titled ‘Housing Benefit size criteria: impacts for social sector tenants and options for reform' has found:-          In the first year of the policy, the DWP is likely to save £330m which is £115m below its initial target.-          498,000 people have been affected by the policy which is lower than the 660,000 estimate by DWP. Half were in arrears in the...

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    One local authority has set out a plan to eradicate homelessness by 2018

    Warrington Homelessness Commission has provided ten recommendations to remove homelessness in its report ‘Leading a public debate focused on homelessness in Warrington'. The recommendations include a single gateway approach, with all agencies involved working together closely, a strategic review in the way homelessness services are commissioned, managed and delivered and identifying more...

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    Councils have needed over £5m to help bedroom tax shortfall

    The six authorities had an initial grant of £4.2m however had to apply for further funding in discretionary housing payments, making the total £5.2m. The money is given by the councils to tenants who have seen their housing benefits reduced as a result of the spare bedroom subsidiary, which has seen many tenants lose up to 25% of their housing benefits if they have spare bedrooms in their...

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    Mental health workers and police join together to help those with mental health problems

    The money will see mental health staff working in police stations, magistrates and youth courts across Sunderland to extend working hours with new groups of people whilst also creating a link between adult and youth services. It will see people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and other vulnerabilities given support as they move through the criminal justice system, reports the...

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    Health service ombudsman says older people are suffering in silence in NHS care

    Dame Mellor thinks that older people may be "suffering in silence" under NHS care due to their reluctance to complain about any poor care they receive. She believes that they are either in fear of a backlash if issues are raised, or don't like making a fuss. This results in watchdogs only seeing the tip of the iceberg in serious failings, reports the Guardian.Due to this Dame Mellor is calling...

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    New service to prevent older people feeling socially isolated

    Age UK Surrey is running a new event in partnership with Tandridge District Council with funding from Surrey County Council's adult social services, reports East Grinstead Courier. The first event, named "Tea and Talk" will be held at the Douglas Brunton Centre on Tuesday the 8th. Free transport will also be provided for people across Tandridge who are unable to get there themselves.The event...

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    Welfare reforms to disability benefits defended by Iain Duncan Smith

    Mr Duncan Smith said that these changes will end up saving the taxpayer up to £50bn by the end of this Parliament. He said the reforms would "help and benefit" those who wished to return to work, reports the BBC.Speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Duncan Smith said: "I think the work programme is now for the first time ever working with people, who were once on sickness benefits and who...

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    Unemployed will have to take ‘basic steps' before receiving unemployment benefits

    The employment minister, Esther McVey, is said to be planning to launch a significant government push on welfare this week by stating unemployed people must prepare for their first interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser by preparing a CV whilst also setting up an email address and register on the government's jobs website, reports the Guardian.This is due to the government wishing to put an end...

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    New project launched to help homeless families in Liverpool

    Almost 120 families in Merseyside were declared homeless between September and December of last year, and figures show that losing a privately rented home is now the leading cause of homelessness.Shelter's staff plan to help families with support to get back into work, access the correct health care and offer advice on how to manage rent arrears and family budgets. They hope that close to 150...

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    Ministers in Wales are ignoring the growing problem of young people waiting for psychiatric services, it is claimed

    In a report last year ongoing problems with mental health services in Wale were highlighted. The Welsh government has said cutting waiting times was a priority, and extra funding of £250,000 had been announced recently. The number of young people in Wales waiting over 14 weeks for psychiatric services rose from 199 to 736 in the last year, reports the BBC.A joint review by Health Inspectorate...

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    New centre aimed at reducing youth homelessness is opening in Scotland

    The Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution is aiming to provide families with support and advice on how to solve any conflicts. Experts believe that mediation services are the most effective way of stopping young people leaving the family home, resulting in homelessness. Figures show that almost 6,000 young people become homeless in Scotland each year due relationship breakdowns between their...

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    Cuts to councils temporary housing funding

    Research has suggested that cuts to the funding of council-owned temporary accommodation which will cost local authorities across the UK millions of pounds. At the moment councils use their own housing stock as temporary housing and pay for the accommodation themselves. They can later claim the money back from the Department for Work and Pensions through a rent ‘rebate' system, reports Inside...

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    New tenancy sustainment protocol for social housing tenants in Nottingham

    Newark and Sherwood Homes have released a new tenancy sustainment and eviction prevention protocol. The goal of these new protocols is to help tenants keep up to date with their rent payments and help them clear their debts, reports the Nottingham Post.With this new protocol, pursuing evictions will be seen as a last resort.Newark and Sherwood district have seen a 9% rise in the number of tenants...

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    Cuts find social care for those with mental health problems is being reduced

    The research, commissioned by the Care and Support alliance and conducted by the Personal Social Services Research Unit, looks at over 70 charities and organisations which represent older and people with disabilities has found that the number of people with mental health problems receiving social care has dropped by 48% since 2005. One in three local authorities has been found to reduce mental...

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    Experts call for merged NHS and social-care budget

    In the Barker Commission's interim report they say that with an ageing population and a rise in illnesses such as dementia, the lines between the two services have become ‘blurred'. Due to this, they believe friction is being caused between the NHS and councils over who is responsible for care. This then results in people facing delays getting care or going without, reports the BBC. The...

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    Fifth annual Atlas for homeless people

    The Atlas maps voluntary sector agencies providing direct services to homeless people without dependent children.The LHF is a charitable trust who assists agencies which serve the homelessness sector in London, to help build futures for homeless people, reports 24dash.LHF chair Simon Dow, who is also chief executive of the Guinness Partnership, said: "This year's Atlas show just how much change...

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    Sanctions to benefits are compounding the impact of welfare reforms, report says

    Research by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has revealed that the recently-reformed Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions regime is "unfair" in its decision-making process and the sanctions imposed are "disproportionately harsh", reports 24dash. The report titled ‘Cause for Concern' also reveals concerns about social housing tenants' housing benefit being stopped meaning many are...

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    Those with disabilities face distress due to housing benefit changes, MPs say

    The work and Pensions Committee have said that the reduction in payments to social housing tenants seen to be living in homes larger than their needs have hit those with vulnerabilities not intended targets. They say the rules were having a "severe" effect.However, the government has said its reforms were restoring fairness to the system, reports the BBC.Social housing tenants have found that...

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    Over 40% of domestic violence victims are male

    The study by the men's rights campaign group Parity, and it says that men assaulted by their partners often goes ignored by police, and their attacker goes free with the men having fewer refuges to flee to than women.The charity's analysis of statistics on domestic violence highlight the number of men attacked by wives or girlfriends is much higher than people thought. In the report Domestic...

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    Research finds a third of all Newcastle homes have been hit by welfare reforms

    The research highlights that the controversial bedroom tax has had the most significant impact on social housing tenants in the city. On average the weekly loss in benefits for a council tenant seen to be under-occupying their home is £13.51 per household. The annual loss in housing benefit amongst all council tenants is around £3.2m, reports 24dash.ALMO Your Homes Newcastle, who run Newcastle...

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    139 Bedroom tax exemptions by one care provider

    A welfare project devised by care provider Blackwood has seen a specialist team help, support and advise tenants on how to cope with the changes brought on my reforms, bedroom tax and universal credit.A spokesperson for Blackwood said: "We set up the project to help people work out all the different changes and we sat down with the tenants and helped them to fill in the forms. It has been a...

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    Reductions in benefits will have largest impact on homeless, charity claims

    Homeless Action Scotland has written evidence to the Scottish Parliament's welfare reform committee and is warning that benefit sanctions would ‘chip away' at the support for homeless people, reports Inside Housing. The charity also refers to situations in England, where research by Homeless Link reveals sanctions are already disproportionately affecting homeless people. They say this must be...

Exempt Accommodation, Welfare Reform and Vulnerable Tenants Everything was extremely useful. I like to hear about the updated case law and how things are changing. Also like to hear other delegates examples and the responses to their difficulties. Support solutions are excellent. K.B- Jephson Housing Association

 

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