Blog Archive

July 2014

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    Government homelessness scheme shunned by councils

    A report published by the London Assembly's housing committee has said that councils were reluctant to host ‘hubs' for the No Second Night Out scheme, which is a nationwide programme that helps rough sleepers find alternative accommodation, reports Inside Housing.The scheme initialy began in London in 2011 and was rolled out nationwide in 2012 using funding from the Department for Communities...

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    Mental health services unable to cope with NHS cuts

    GPs are reporting that some patients have committed suicide or have been sectioned due to a lack of available community mental health services, reports the Independent.Over 80% of GPs believe that their local mental health teams are unable to cope with their caseloads and almost half said that the situation in their area had gotten worse in the past twelve months.Mental health receives around 13...

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    Rough sleeping risen by almost a quarter in London

    The ‘CHAIN rough sleeping return', recorded in Street to Home's quarterly report, has found that outreach teams recorded 1,268 people in London sleeping rough for the first time between April and June 2014, compared to 1,030 during the same period in 2013, reports Inside Housing.The report has been put together by homelessness charity St Mungo's Broadway, who have said the total number of rough...

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    Charities say use their expertise to improve work programme's ‘poor performance'

    A report by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations has found that the contractors of the work programme "are failing to help people furthest from the labour market to find work," reports Inside Housing.Stepping Stones, the Role of the Voluntary Sector in Future Welfare to Work Schemes, says that the work programme has "failed to help many service users with multiple or complex needs"...

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    People struggling with bedroom tax in Wirral receive help from relief fund

    Council chiefs have said the move is aimed to help residents who're affected by the bedroom tax, reports the Liverpool Echo. Council leader Cllr Phil Davies, also councillor for Birkenhead and Tranmere, said the measure was "delivering on Wirral Labour's commitment" to fight the policy by "pushing" local social housing provider Magenta Living to create the relief fund.The fund follows a...

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    Supported housing scheme in Newmarket receives sensory garden

    Childwick House is a supported housing scheme for people over 55 which provides a supported and safe environment for people living with dementia, reports Cambridge News.The sensory garden is aimed to help residents living in the supported housing scheme have their senses stimulated with the plants selected for their colour, scent and texture. There is also a water feature with fish which has been...

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    Lord Freud says Universal Credit safeguards are working

    Writing for 24dash, Lord Freud says that through a phased approach, new jobcentres will gradually come online during the remainder of the year until all of the offices across the region will be offering universal credit to single people. The plan was for universal credit to be moved forward in a controlled and careful way as part of a long-term economic plan and soon the benefit will begin to...

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    Council pledges to support people with vulnerabilities following government cuts

    After previously being paid by the Department for Work and Pensions, emergency support grants were delegated to local authorities in 2013. However the DWP has now indicated that it intends to withdraw the money which funds them. Due to this Kensington and Chelsea has decided to step in and met the cost itself, which is estimated to be £435,000 in 2015/16, reports 24dash.The council also intends...

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    Call for less council tax for community volunteers

    The Local Government Association has said that volunteers have saved the public purse millions of pound through their efforts and deserved some financial recognition, reports the BBC.The LGA are urging the next government to give almost 500,000 people in England and Wales a 10% annual rebate. Community groups will help councils to identify who should qualify.They are calling on the main parties...

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    Benefit top-ups suspended as bedroom tax is draining welfare budgets in Falkirk

    Falkirk Council has moved to suspend awards of Discretionary Housing Payments to housing benefit claimants who are struggling to pay their rent but have not been affected by the bedroom tax, reports The Herald Scotland.The local authority has said that it needs over £.13m to mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax in the current financial year, as it currently only has £645,000.But Falkirk...

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    Government said to be ‘turning its back' on domestic violence victims

    The shadow home secretary has said "deeply worrying" data suggests that there has been an increase in the use of "community resolutions" to handle domestic violence cases.The Home Office said using these for serious crimes was "not acceptable", reports the BBC.Data compiled by Labour from fifteen police forces reveals that the number of community resolutions for domestic violence in 2013 had...

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    Tenant rating system could help people with vulnerabilities find accommodation

    They believe that this would make landlords more confident in letting their properties to people who have vulnerabilities. The suggestion is based upon a scheme by Hartlepool Council so that people with vulnerabilities who have been unable to get landlord references after they have left prison or been homeless get a chance of finding a property, reports Inside Housing.The Hartlepool scheme has...

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    Mental health treated as ‘second class service' by the NHS

    As little as 6.6% of NHS budgets go toward mental health services, even though conditions such as anxiety and depression total up to 23% of the services overall burden of illness, reports the Guardian.This revelation has prompted claims that the NHS are treating mental health as a second class service and patients in areas where few services are provided locally are receiving poorer care as a...

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    A rise in homelessness prevention by councils

    The Department for Coomunities and Local Government have released figures which show preventions in England have risen from 181,900 to 209,300 between 2012/13 and 201/14, reports Inside Housing.Homelessness prevention gives people ways to address their housing needs to avoid homelessness by helping them obtain alternative accommodation or by enabling them to remain in their current property.A 12%...

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    Rural communities hit hardest by bedroom tax says campaigners

    Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) is calling for the Government to remove the charge in settlements of fewer than 3,000 people as a minimum.  The charity maintains that a shortage of one and two-bedroom homes in the countryside means rural tenants have no choice but to move into towns and cities or fall into debt if they cannot make up the rent shortfall, reports Ely news.Kirsten...

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    Closure of London substance misuse clinic

    Over the past two years the clinic has lost around £600,000 a year which renders the service "financially unviable". Trust chief executive Claire Murdoch told the July board meeting that, while she hoped extra funding could be agreed, a "contingency plan" was needed, reports Nursing Times. Ms Murdoch told the board she had met with staff at the unit to explain why the decision to consult on the...

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    Report shows the impact of the bedroom tax

    A study into the impact of the removal of the spare room subsidy has found that 300,000 people affected were in rent arrears just five months after the charges came into force, reports the Local Gov.Over the same period almost 41% of tenants had reported to have paid the additional rent and 39% had only paid a portion of it. 57% of people affected had reported that they were cutting back on...

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    ‘Fit for work' assessments for people with disabilities labelled flawed by MPs

    A committee of MPs has said that the governments system for assessing whether people claiming benefits with a disability or long term illness are "fit for work" is flawed and should be removed and redesigned.The work and pensions select committee has said that the employment and support allowance system is crude, simplistic and failing to fulfil its intended purpose of helping people get back...

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    Police tackle mental health patients detained in cells

    Under the Mental Health Act if there is no "safe space" in hospitals available police can detain people. Norman Lamb, the health minister has called this practise a "scandal", reports the BBC.Police at Thames Valley have said that a pilot scheme involving mental health nurses out on patrol has helped to reduce these cases. From July 2012 to June 2013 figures from the force show the amount of...

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    Update for benefit sanctions process

    The government is planning to overhaul the way it treats benefit recipients threatened by sanctions due to an independent report it commissioned has revealed systematic failings in the process which includes disproportionate burdens placed on people with the most vulnerabilities, reports the Guardian. The report revealed that the way in which the Department for Work and Pensions communicated...

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    Call for bedroom tax vote in the autumn

    Last Thursday, Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury, said the party had ‘reviewed its position' and now believed only those who turn down a suitable offer of an alternative home should have their benefits reduced.  However, the Lib Dems had voted against a similar amendment to the bill, proposed by the House of Lords, when the policy was originally going through...

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    New genes linked to schizophrenia have been discovered

    An international group led by Cardiff University say that the world's largest genetic study of the disease shows how it can have biological causes, which puts it on a par with other medical conditions. They also believe this could be a launch pad for new theories.Charities say that holistic approaches to the illness must continue, reports the BBC.Scientists have discovered over 100 genes that...

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    30% of calls unanswered at homelessness charity

    The charity has said that its team of advisors have spoken to over 124,000 people in need of housing support over the last year, however almost 54,000 calls were left unanswered, reports Inside Housing.The number of calls to Shelter's helpline from April 2013 to March 2014 rose to 178,571 from 148,903 over the same period in 2011/12, which is a 20% increase of 29,668 callers.The charity says that...

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    Increase in the number of calls to the Samaritans from mental health patients

    The Samaritans say that they are seeing a large rise in the number of calls from people with mental illnesses as patients say they have no-one to turn to at evenings and weekends, reports the Manchester Evening News.Sue McDonald, Manchester Samaritans director, said: "We are very much busier than two years ago and have noticed at evenings and weekends we get more and more calls from people with...

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    Over half of tenants with benefit cuts are ‘struggling to pay'

    Over 300,000 tenants have been affected by the spare room subsidy rules were in arrears five months after changes came into effect in April last year, reports the BBC.Analysis by the Department for Work and Pensions analysis has found that few tenants have managed to move to avoid the penalty. The DWP has said its overall housing benefit changes would save billions of pounds; however housing...

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    Veterans support organisations welcome new funding for ‘Pathway'

    This coalition is comprised of Riverside housing, Stoll and Haig Housing, who are specialists in working with veterans and their families who together support thousands of veterans, reports 24dash.The pathway offers a range of support for veterans which includes a state-of-the-art temporary accommodation centre, health and wellbeing support alongside access to employment and training...

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    Welfare reforms causing supported housing to be ‘clogged up'

    If European people were to be moved from supported housing some will have their housing benefit cut due to welfare reforms that came into effect in April, reports Inside Housing.Migrants from the European Economic Area who are not in work are no longer eligible to claim any housing benefit. Migrants who were already claiming before 1 April were given ‘transitional protection' from the changes...

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    New report calls for more homes suitable for people with disabilities

    A report titled ‘Home Sweet Hell' says that 50% of people reporting mobility problems don't have stairs big enough for a stair-lift to be fitted."For thousands of disabled people this means they can't get upstairs to sleep in their own bedrooms," the report says, and many are forced to use commodes downstairs instead of the bathroom, reports 24dash.Around 5 million people in the UK are likely...

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    6,000 are claiming universal credit

    Statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions has showed the government's progress in rolling out the new benefit, which is a combination of several benefits into one payment paid direct to households.The figures show that 5,880 people were claiming universal credit in April, whilst 6,960 claimed it at some point between April 2013 and 30 April 2014. 60% of the claimants on universal...

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    Changes to housing benefits proposed by Lib Dems

    The Lib Dem Chief Secretarty to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said it was "time to take stock and change our approach", reports the BBC.A Downing Street spokesman said the Conservatives are committed to reforms. He added that the Lib Dems "have never demanded the abolition of the spare room subsidy in private and have campaigned for it in public."Mr Alexander has proposed that nobody should...

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    Proposed cap on child benefit to cut welfare spending

    A report by Policy Exchange says that child benefit should be limited to four children per household and reduced to bring down welfare spending. Researchers for the thinktank argue that this can be justified due to the arrival of a first child tends to have the biggest impact on family finances and believe this move could save around £1bn over the course of a parliament, reports the...

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    Young people should not be placed in B&Bs says MPs

    The Commons Education Select Committee has said that B&B accommodation is "threatening and frightening" and should only be used in emergency situations reports the BBC.MPs say that young people should not have to leave care until they are 21.The MPs report suggests that the quality of preparation for a young person's transition from care to greater independence is "too often inadequate". They...

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    Concern of lenders revealed in bedroom tax report

    The report states that funders feel the ‘cumulative impacts of welfare reform' could lead to ‘build-up of arrears, reduced liquidity, reduced profitability, more stretched management and less development', reports Inside Housing. It was also reported that there was no positive impact for funders from the improved work incentives from the bedroom tax. Researchers found that few tenants...

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    Special measures system designed to improve failing care homes

    A scheme similar to special measures of hospitals will be introduced for care homes and home care agencies next year, ministers will say, reports the BBC.This will cover 25,000 services and could lead to the closure of those that will fail to improve.The system is not expected to start until April due to the ratings regime it will based on will only be rolled out in the social care system from...

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    Study finds bedroom tax is making low-income tenants chose between heating or eating

    A government-commissioned analysis of the policy's impact reveals that thousands of low-income tenants have been plunged into ‘heat or eat' hardship due to the bedroom tax. The study has found that 60% of the 523,000 tenants affected have been unable to meet housing benefit shortfalls of between £14 and £22 a week in full, reports the Guardian.The report found that many tenants are cutting...

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    Benefit claimants may have to undergo mental health treatment

    The Daily Telegraph has reported that the government is trialling a scheme in which rules excluding treatment for anxiety and depression from becoming a condition of sickness benefits are lifted, reports Inside Housing.A series of pilots combining help to work initiatives and mental health treatments led by the Department of Health and the Department for Work and Pensions are due to be expanded...

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    New mental health support scheme in Doncaster

    Doncaster Council and NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group have jointly awarded a two year contract to run a borough-wide peer support training service to the intake-based People Focussed Group Doncaster, reports the Doncaster Free Press.Doncaster PFG's role will be to provide peer support development training programmes for groups across Doncaster.The aim is to create a ripple effect with...

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    Thousands of tenants facing eviction without rent arrears

    Citizen's Advice Bureau has said it's seen a 38% increase in arrear-free tenants being threatened with eviction, with 5,000 cases  in 2013/14 which is up from 3,750 the year before, reports Inside Housing.The Bureau said landlords are trying to remove tenants due to them wanting to cash in on rising property prices and sell the home. Landlords are also accused of hiking rents to unaffordable...

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    Research says that one in three Alzheimer's cases can be prevented

    The research says that the main risk factors of Alzheimer's is lack of exercise, smoking, depression and poor education, reports the BBC. Alzheimer's Research UK said age was still the biggest risk factor.The research found that a third of Alzheimer's cases could be linked to lifestyle factors that can be modified such as smoking and lack of exercise.They found that by reducing each risk factor...

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    New report on the impact of welfare reforms

    The Real Life Reform research was carried out between April and early May and reveals that people are dealing with mounting debt, borrowing from loan sharks and turning to food banks, reports 24dash.The report found that unemployed households were left with just £1.46 per day after bills which is a 17% drop since 2013. The number of in-debt household owing more than £2,000 has risen to 52.8%...

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    Mental health work support scheme piloted

    Thousands of Employment and Support Allowance claimants could be affected by these new changes. The Department for Work and Pensions has said treatment would not be mandatory in the pilot scheme but the ideas remains for the future, reports the BBC. People wishing to claim ESA must currently undergo mandatory tests carried out by a doctor or healthcare professional. Critics have said that these...

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    More beds needed for young people suffering from mental health problems

    The NHS is said to be increasing the number of beds available for children and young people needing specialist mental health services to prevent patients being treated long distances from home, reports the Guardian. A report by the NHS has found that broader engagement with children and young people, their families and their carers is one of the problems that should be addressed. It also found...

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    Sheltered housing group increases age criteria to entice older people

    One housing association is planning to restrict its sheltered housing schemes so that only people of retirement age will be able to stay in order to make it more attractive to prospective tenants, reports Inside Housing.Housing and Care 21 is raising the age of eligibility for its sheltered schemes from 55 to retirement age from September.Many social landlords own sheltered stock that is becoming...

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    Welfare reforms support projects announced

    The minister for welfare reform has told the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth that eleven partnerships between councils and job centres will test different ways of providing support to job seekers under universal credit, reports Inside Housing. Lord Freud said: "I hope I made clear just how important local services are to universal credit that's underpinned by the framework...

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    Universal credit ‘deception' denied by Duncan Smith

    Chris Bryant has accused Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith of "beating around the bush" on the issue.Mr Duncan Smith has said the case will be signed off by the Treasury "very soon" and accused Mr Bryant of making the "most pompous, ludicrous statement that I have heard", adding the real issue was "about Labour's failure to come to terms with welfare reform".Margaret Hodge, Labour MP...

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    Councillors call for ‘anti-homeless' spikes to be banned

    A motion has been scheduled for 15th July on a council meeting agenda. The motion says: ‘Swansea Council would ask the Welsh Government to prohibit their [anti-homeless measures] use in open public spaces (as a means of deterring rough sleeping) and instead focus it's [sic] considerable resources toward achieving a long term solution to the causes of homelessness in Wales,' reports Inside...

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    NHS boss says those with vulnerabilities need joint health and care budget

    Simon Stevens wants to see older people, those with disabilities and people with serious mental health problems given joint pots from the NHS and council-run social care services, reports the BBC.This idea gives patients a nominal budget which they can decide to spend on whatever care and serves they wish. This is part of a drive to give patients more power. GP and emergency care is not included...

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    Seven in ten homeless people are suffering from health problems

    A study by Homeless Link has found that more medical problems appear in the homeless population than the general public, with 35% not eating at least two meals a day and two thirds consuming more than the recommended amount of alcohol each time they drink, reports Inside Housing. The report titled The Unhealthy State of Homelessness, looked at data from 2,500 individuals and found that 41% of...

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    New scheme helps older people feels connected with their family

    Care Messenger is a service which allows personalised messages to be delivered directly to TV screens via smartphones, the internet and tablets. This system has been designed for people who do not have the confidence to use computers and more advance technology, reports the Sunderland Echo.Victoria Barclay, regional director from Housing and Care 21, said: "With almost 100 tenants in the new...

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    Study finds government policies are making people homeless

    The report by Commonweal Housing, Rough Justice: uncovering social policies that create homelessness' claims that homelessness and the threat of becoming homeless is a much wider problem than the government's figures of 2,414 rough sleepers suggests, reports 24dash. The report claims that the following policies should be changed:• 'Unfair' immigration policy that leaves vulnerable migrants...

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    Report into welfare reform finds that DWP staff lack empathy

    The report, One day at a time, is based on evidence from across the bureaux network in Wales.It says in the section about the awareness of benefit changes: "The DWP in particular came in for significant criticism in the manner they communicated with claimants, especially by some participants living with a disability or long-term health condition. A perceived lack of empathy from frontline staff...

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    Welfare reforms under fire by UN poverty experts

    In a letter sent to Britain's ambassador to the UN, George Osborne's indications that welfare reform will continue until at least 2017 has been criticised. The benefits cap and bedroom tax has also raised concerns, reports Inside Housing.The letter says: ‘We would like to bring to your government's attention information we have received concerning the... impact of reductions in public...

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    Breakthrough blood test for Alzheimer's cure

    An international collaboration led by scientists from King's College London and Proteome Sciences has published a study identifying a set of ten proteins in the blood. This test will then predict the onset of Alzheimer's in the next twelve months in people with memory problems with 87% accuracy, reports the Guardian. David Cameron recently announced a drive to discover new drugs for dementia,...

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    Young people leaving care are concerned about becoming homeless

    The charity is now calling upon the government to extend the support given to care leavers so that everyone is given support via personal advisors up to the age of 25, reports Inside Housing.In their report, On My Own, Barnardo's found that care leavers with vulnerabilities found it hard to find housing and manage living alone for the first time and often lived in unsuitable or unsafe...

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    Trials for Alzheimer's disease is declining

    US scientists have said there is an urgent need to increase the number of potential therapies being investigated. They say that only one new medicine has been approved since 2004, reports the BBC.The drug failure rate is troubling and higher than for other diseases such as cancer, says Alzheimer's Research UK. Between 2002 and 2012, they found 99.6% of trials of drugs aimed at preventing, curing...

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    The effect of council budget cuts on single homeless people

    Since the last election councils across England have slashed funding for single homeless people support services by over a quarter, reports Inside Housing. Research using the Freedom of Information Act by Inside Housing found 77 local authorities cut a total of £34m from their housing-related support budgets for homeless individuals between 2010/11 and 2013/14 - a drop of 26 per cent.Katharine...

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    Campaigners want free end-of-life social care

    Macmillan Cancer Support says that the NHS in England could save £69m a year on the care of cancer patients alone. Analysis based on a review of patient surveys, official NHS spending data and interviews with senior decision-makers, reports the BBC. Whilst social care is currently means-tested ministers are considering providing it to everyone at the end of life. About half of people end up...

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    New housing development to help victims of the bedroom tax

    The 62 two-bed homes development have been developed to meet the rise in demand for smaller properties to prevent people losing benefits due to the under-occupancy charge.  Social landlords Cobalt Housing, Liverpool Housing Trust and Beechwood Ballantyne Community Housing Association - all part of Symphony Housing Group - are behind the schemes, which are worth a combined £6.5 million, reports...

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    A billboard to home the homeless

    The home will measure just over 18 sq meters however will contain all of the elements of modern urban living. The walls are wooden, the radiator hangs vertically and all the fittings and floors are white. The bed is at the rear of the property making it the furthers point from the main road, reports the Guardian.  "Every home has its advantages and disadvantages," says Matej Nedorolík of...

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    Older people prevented from having access to vital surgery

    The Royal College of GPs and Age UK have looked at surgery rates for six common procedures for over 65s in England, reports the BBC. The report found a wide variation in access to treatment depending on where people lived and found a "worrying" difference between the over 65s and over 75s.NHS England said it was committed to "ensuring older patients had equal access to treatment".RCS president...

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    Housing associations reveal the pressure of bedroom tax

    Labour MPs Julie Hilling (Bolton West) and Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) revealed how social landlords in their constituencies had seen a sharp rise in arrears due to the controversial under-occupation policy, reports 24dash.Hilling said: "Bolton at Home tells me that its arrears stand at £1.9 million, even though it has a 97% collection rate and has employed an additional 11 people to...

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    Complaints rise about Northern Ireland health and social care

    An annual report by the Northern Ireland ombudsman, Dr Tom Frawley has said that the complaints about health and social care were "increasingly profound", reports the BBC.The report found that most of the complaints received by the ombudsman regarding health and social care involved "serious adverse clinical incidents", or the "death of a loved one".Dr Frawley said: "The health and social care...

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    Convictions of domestic violence at record high

    The conviction rate for domestic violence cases has reached its highest ever level, with cases now making up 10.7% of the Crown Prosecution Service's workload, reports the Guardian.Figures show that referrals by the police to the CPS, prosecutions by the service and convictions have all risen in the past year.The volume of referrals by the police increased by 15,459 to 103,569 last year, a rise...

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    People with mental health problems could lose disability support pension in welfare overhaul

    The head of a government review of the welfare system has suggested that people with mental health problems could be targeted as one of the groups to become ineligible for the disability support pensions.Patrick McClure, whose interim report was released on Sunday, said people would "not necessarily be better off" under the proposed welfare reforms, reports the Guardian."We haven't currently set...

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    Sanctions for homeless people eased

    The Job Centre Plus advisors will be given discretionary power to exempt rough sleepers and those in supported accommodation from looking for work, following new rules, reports 24dash.A recent report by Homeless Link in September found that 31% of homeless people on jobseekers; allowance benefits have been sanctioned, compared to 5.5% of the typical claimant population. Homeless claimants found...

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    Ministers say volunteers must care for older people

    Care minister Norman Lamb has told the Financial Times that modern families were unable to meet the rising demand of older people, reports the BBC. He said the "the dispersal of the extended family" had left many older Britons lonely and said the state could not address the problem "on its own".He said there was an "overwhelming case" for volunteers to fill the gap."On our very streets we have...

Responding to the DWP Consultation:  Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "It was well-run, in a good location, and very useful.  I've only one suggestion; as the session went on it would perhaps have been useful for bullet points of general agreement about what should be in the sector response to be displayed and added to as the session went on, maybe on a flip chart. Regarding your response paper, I particularly like the answer you give to question 9.  In fact the general: "if it ain't broke don't fix it" response could be pushed harder." M.P. - Adref Ltd

 

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