Blog Archive

August 2014

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    Research finds parents cutting back on food to pay for housing costs

    The survey, undertaken by YouGov, found that 36.7% of working adults with children under the age of eighteen had reduced the amount of money they spent on food, to keep up with payments on their homes, reports Inside Housing. Over 10% of parents who responded to the poll said that they or their partner had skipped meals to help pay for housing costs, whilst another 12.9% had delayed buying their...

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    Minister says mental health care for young people is ‘in dark ages'

    Norman Lamb has spoken to the BBC to say he was determined to modernise the provision of psychiatric help for children.The care and support minister plans to launch a task force to look into ways of improving services. One task force member said that "ultimately, money will have to be spent"Current issues with mental health services for young people involves; an increase in the number of young...

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    Benefit claimants urged to pay extra rent in advance by housing associations

    Housing associations are telling tenants on benefits to make extra rent payments in advance so that they avoid ending up in financial difficulties once they are transferred to universal credit, reports the Guardian.These instructions by housing providers are reflecting concerns that people will default on payments once they have to begin paying rent themselves, a month in advance, under universal...

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    40% of council tax unpaid by low-income households

    Council tax has been levied on the poorest of households in England since April last year due to a series of benefit cuts, reports the Guardian.The figures, obtained from responses from 140 councils to Freedom of Information requests by the anti-cuts group False Economy, reveal that some of the biggest towns and cities were left chasing millions of pounds from the poor.A spokesperson for False...

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    Initiative tackling domestic abuse in social housing to launch

    The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance is a partnership between Peabody and Gentoo with national campaign group Standing Together Against Violence, reports Inside Housing. The DAHA aims to improve awareness and training around domestic abuse for social landlords, and is also in the process of drafting an accreditation process.This launch follows news from last week that every social landlord in...

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    ‘Troubled families' in the UK are suffering with physical and mental health problems

    The coalition has identified 120,000 'troubled families' whose lives it plans to turnaround by 2015, reports 24dash. In a report published in July it found that families targeted by the programme had an average of nine different problems, ranging from employment to housing, parenting or health.The government has also identified the following apparent links in 'troubled...

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    New universal credit ‘safeguards' by the DWP

    The DWP has been working closely with housing providers and the National Housing Federation to ensure that rent payments are safeguarded under the new benefits system, reports 24dash.Labour MP Frank Field say that these ‘safeguards' have been taken one step further.  Field claims that official figures from the DWP reveal that the department is making payments directly to landlords for over...

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    Self-harm by mental health patients has risen

    New NHS figures reveal a growing number of people being treated in mental health units are harming themselves and trying to take their own lives. Labour, which obtained the figures under freedom of information laws, linked the increase to cuts in the number of doctors and nurses working in mental health units and their budgets, reports the Guardian."Mental health services have been squeezed year...

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    99% rent collection rate for one housing associations universal credit experiment

    City West Housing Trust decided to set up a trial to see how direct payments to tenants would affect its own residents with universal credit set to fully roll out across the North West of England this year, reports 24dash.City West found that at the end of the trial rent arrears among its 54 voulnteers dropped and rent collection stood at more than 99%. Of the 54 tenants, 43 had been hit by the...

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    Benefit sanctions causing a rise in hunger says public health expert

    Vice president for policy at the Faculty of Public Health, John Middleton, has said that benefit delays were preventing people on low incomes from eating healthy diets and that a national healthy food policy should have greater emphasis on affordability, reports Inside Housing.Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre have revealed that the number of people admitted to...

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    Emotional as well as physical harm to be classed as domestic abuse

    The government is launching a consultation on strengthening the law by explicitly stating domestic abuse covers coercive behaviour.  This move comes after the way that police respond to domestic abuse in England and Wales, reports the Guardian. The consultation document says that police fail to see abuse, particularly in its nonviolent form, as a serious crime, adding: "Creating a specific...

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    ‘Domestic Violence Policy' now in place with all Welsh social landlords.

    Back in May 2014 the Welsh housing minister, Carl Sargeant, threatened to stop funding social landlords that did not have a clear strategy in place to tackle domestic violence. According to a report from Inside Housing, Welsh government figures show that in 2013 only around 18% of local authorities and 68% of social landlords had a domestic abuse policy for tenants.Every social landlord in Wales...

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    A UK based charity launches a suicide prevention app

    Brighton-based Grassroots Suicide Prevention is looking to launch the UK's first suicide prevention app for tablets and smartphones.Grassroots Suicide Prevention (formerly Grassroots Training C.I.C), is a small charity based in Brighton, UK. Established in 2006, they provide mental health and suicide prevention training courses and expertise to both large and small organisations in the South...

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    Department of Health to fund homelessness scheme

    Young homeless people are soon to find accommodation in sheltered housing schemes and unused hostels. It has been announced that the Department of Health (DoH) is to fund £40m towards two projects which will provide accommodation for young youths. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have announced they will fund £1.5m to this scheme along with the DoH, totalling...

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    Care legislation could 'exclude' people with vulnerabilities

    In a recent article, Home Group responded to the Government's Care Act draft regulation and guidance consultation, warning that the current guidance could lead to the reintroduction of the local variations in eligibility that the Act was designed to prevent.Home Group, which provides social care services to 30,000 people each year, believes that a lack of clarity around the terms used within the...

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    Homelessness figures are down 17%

    Recent reports show the number of people registered as homeless in Scotland's capital has dropped significantly.According to Edinburgh News:Applications to the city council in 2012-13 totalled 4267 - down from 4448 over the ­previous 12 months and 5148 in 2007-08.City leaders have welcomed the 17 per cent drop and attributed it to improved prevention, information and support services, which they...

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    Social Media to support people suffering with their mental health

    Mental health services in the UK are continuously expressing how difficult it is for them to support all of the people in the UK who have mental health problems.Many services are not receiving the funding they need to provide support to those who need it. However, one solution could be the use of social media to provide support to some who are in need of it.For many suffering with their mental...

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    A third of older people are not receiving the care they need

    Age UK have revealed that 870,000 people between the age of 65 and 89 have difficulty carrying out everyday tasks and do not receive any formal help from care workers, family or friends, reports the Local Gov.Between 2005/6 and 2012/13 the number of people aged over 65 receiving social care services has dropped by over a quarter, but the age group has risen by over a million in the same time...

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    NHS mental health services 'dangerously close to collapse' due to funding cuts

    An investigation by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) has revealed that there are 3,640 fewer nurses and 213 fewer doctors working in mental health services in April this year compared to staffing levels two years ago, reports the Independent.Through freedom of information requests and analysis of workforce data it has been revealed that the NHS' 57 mental health trusts have lost 2.3% of their...

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    Bedroom tax statistics questioned by Iain Duncan Smith

    Mr Duncan Smith said there is "no check" on the figures which are based on tenants' "self-declaration", reports Inside Housing.The figure has derived from an impact equality assessment that has been carried out by the minister's own department and has been used by Labour as a means to attack the government over the policy.In a radio interview, Mr Duncan Smith said a third of tenants are receipt...

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    No treatment for two-thirds of Britons with depression

    While the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has pledged to deliver "parity of esteem" for mental and physical health services, the treatment gap is now so huge that it may prove impossible to bridge in the current financial climate, said Professor Simon Wessely of King's College London in his first interview since election to the post. "People are still routinely waiting for - well, we don't really...

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    New tenant rules for universal credit

    The government is introducing new rules which will allow housing associations the ability to prevent tenants claiming universal credit falling into arrears, reports Inside Housing. A new pilot will be rolled out by the Department for Work and Pensions by Golden Gates Housing trust which job centres can seek permission from tenants to inform their social landlord if the make a new claim for...

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    Homelessness message spread via pillows

    Knightstone Housing's staff has worked together with its young tenants from it supported housing in Yeovil to deliver a campaign aimed at raising awareness of youth homelessness in the area, reports 24dash.Messages on the pillows include ‘Can you offer a rea bed tonight?' and ‘Your spare room is a lifeline'. Knightstone belongs to a Somerset-wide partnership called ‘Pathways to...

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    New project helping older people remain independent in their homes

    Senior Moves Hambleton - a not-for-profit partnership between Broadacres Housing Association, Age UK, Hambleton District Council and North Yorkshire County Council, is aiming to support existing and potential Hambleton residents who wish to adapt or de-clutter their home, or move to a more manageable property, reports 24dash. The organisation has been set up in response to evidence suggesting a...

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    20% increase in reports of domestic abuse sees one housing association launch its own campaign

    Greenfields Community Housing are encouraging staff, board members and tenants to wear white ribbons or dress in white throughout August to back its campaign, reports Inside Housing.The association is also working with two doctor's surgeries to that victims are provided with contact details of people or organisations that can help them without their abusers finding out. Leaflets and posters have...

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    Calls for an overhaul of mental health services for young people

    Council leaders have said that services for young people with mental health problems need a complete overhaul so that young people and their families are not forced to deal with a complex system at such a difficult time in their lives, reports the Guardian. They added that it can be difficult for young people to get help as there are difficulties in understanding how the system works.The LGA,...

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    Mental health patients benefit from hospital garden and allotment

    The garden and allotment is part of an adult mental health inpatient ward run by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.In order to develop the garden a number of fundraising events have been held, reports the Northern Echo. Kathryn Megginson, a health care assistant who has helped create the garden, said: "With funds raised the patients and staff have bought two greenhouses and a...

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    Councils warn that lack of funds is threatening the Care Act

    The reforms are designed to put people and their carers in better control of their own care whilst limiting the amount that people will pay towards the support they need. However, a survey of 152 councils found that 134 local authorities are concerned about the cost of making crucial changes to services for people in need, reports 24dash. Councils say that uncertainty over the number of people...

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    Iain Duncan Smith says welfare reform must continue

    In a speech in London, Mr Duncan Smith said that changes so far had played a vital role in getting people back into employment and ending a welfare dependency culture, reports the BBC.Mr Duncan Smith also said that they needed to go further as the UK faced challenges from other countries. The idea of limiting child-related benefits to the first few children in a family had been looked at, but it...

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    Shortage of housing leaves homeless families in hostels for two years

    The Independent has reported that a shortage of affordable homes in London is making it impossible for thousands of families to find a permanent residence so that they are able to leave hostels or bed and breakfasts. Data released by councils to Shelter under Freedom of Information laws reveal that over 4,000 homeless families in London have been waiting two or more years to get a permanent...

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    A new service supporting homeless people has launched in Leicester

    A support team will be working with homeowners and tenants aged sixteen and over, to help them stay in their homes, reports the Leicester Mercury. The charity already worked in Ilkeston, Derbyshire but now has offices all over the country.Spokesman Andrew Regan said: "We aim to deliver a focused, individual support plan based on each person's tenancy support needs. It is a flexible service which...

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    Dramatic results for mental health pilot police scheme

    Hampshire police launched Operation Serenity earlier this year to help reduce the number of mental health patients left in cells before they could be assessed and referred to get the right help, reports the Daily Echo.The three-month pilot scheme, championed by Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes, saw mental health workers from Southern Health travel with officers in patrol cars so together...

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    Councils struggling with the rise in costs of assessing when mental health patients can be detained

    In March a court ruling increased the number of patients protected under the Mental Capacity Act deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS), and since then assessments have soared from just over 10,000 last year, to 94,000 this year according to the Association of Directors of Social Services.Since 2009, if a hospital or care home wants to deprive a patient of their liberty - by limiting where they...

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    Boost needed for mental health research - Nick Clegg

    When speaking to the BBC the Deputy Prime Minister said that his next party's election manifesto would include a pledge to raise annual research spending in England by £50m by 2020.Mr Clegg said: "My ambition is that we should understand mental health just as well as we understand physical health. I want us to be able to talk about, analyse and treat depression just as we treat diabetes. For far...

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    Social landlord supporting families in need

    The scheme is part of a series by Ashram Housing Association who have teamed up with Sandwell Council, Public Health England, Kellogg's, the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Family Action and Health for Living to run its Holiday Kitchen programme to help boost children's well-being, reports 24dash.Holiday Kitchen was launched last year and works closely with families of pre and primary school...

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    Almost half of illegal B&B placements occur in three London councils

    These three councils make up 44% of all unlawful placements from over 300 authority areas. From the end of March this year, Brent council has 59 families in bed and breakfast for over six weeks, Hillingdon had 51 and Tower Hamlets had 49, reports Inside Housing. Under the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003 it is illegal to place families with children or pregnant...

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    Funding concerns raised over social care reforms

    A poll of 152 councils in England, were social care spending was capped for adults meaning they had to apply to councils for funding, found 134 had concerns over costs, reports the BBC.The government had said councils were receiving extra money to fund the change.Changes to the way social care will be provided is set to be introduced next year to help protect and support people who face large...

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    Research into costs of supported housing to take place

    Civil servants at the DWP plan to commission research which will kick-start proposals that have not made much progress since 2011, reports Inside Housing. In a consultation exercises carried out three years ago plans to localise funds for supported housing raised concern amongst providers. During the consultation in 2011, the DWP suggested that supported housing could be paid for through the...

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    Domestic abuse awareness month for one housing association

    The housing association, which manages 8,450 homes across Essex has seen reports from tenants affected by domestic abuse rise by 20% after a similar campaign they ran last year, reports 24dash.The social landlord highlights that domestic abuse includes a wide range of behaviour and warns it's rarely a one-off event. The housing association's staff and board members, tenants and other partners...

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    Statistics show 1 million working people are relying on housing benefit

    Figures from the House of Commons reveal that 962,000 housing benefit claimants have a job this year compared with 478,000 in 2009/10 reports Inside Housing.Since 2011, housing associations have built new homes and converted existing ones to affordable rent, for which tenants pay rents of up to 80% of the market rate to make up for lower levels of government funding. Rachel Reeves, shadow work...

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    Social housing tenants to pay rent via Facebook

    Salix Homes, who manage 8,500 homes across  Central Salford, have created an app with Cunning Plan Marketing, which can be accessed through their Facebook page which will enable tenants to report repairs and issues ask questions about their tenancy and find advice on money management and budgeting, reports 24dash.In order to use the service tenants must simply have their own Facebook account and...

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    Report finds UK underprepared for rise in older people

    Older people's charity Anchor, are issuing a call to transform the way services are planned and designed for older people due to neglect, loneliness and inadequate care funding, reports 24dash.The case for change is set out in its recently published Grey Pride Manifesto, which supports growing calls for a minister for older people.In the reports it found that 77% of over 65's agree that there...

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    UK mental health patients to see their fitness boosted by Australian programme

    For five years health workers in the Bondi Beach suburb of Sydney who were treating young people experiencing their first episode of serious mental illness began to raise concerns about their patients' rapid weight gain.Professor Katherine Samaras, a diabetes and obesity specialist at the University of New South Wales, and one of the architects of the Bondi programme, told the Guardian that...

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    7.8% decrease in housing funds for councils

    Data that has been collected by the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy reveal that the total estimated expenditure on council services has been budgeted to reduce from £96.5bn to £93.5bn in 2014/14 compared to 2013, a loss of 3.1%, reports Inside Housing. The biggest reduction in budgeted spending is to housing which...

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    Torbay Council rejects emergency payments for housing benefit claimants

    Figures from Freedom of Information request reveal that 1,673 applications were made for Discretionary Housing Payments between April 2013 and February 2014, and only 40%, 641, were approved, reports the Torquay Herald Express. Overall £353,669 was awarded as of February this year, from a budget of £393,853. Of that amount £47,825 was awarded to households affected by the bedroom tax with...

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    Staff costs for universal credit ‘unsustainable'

    A Salford-based landlord has found that the cost of managing direct payments of universal credit to prevent arrears could be ‘unsustainable.'City West Housing Trust carried out its own pilot from July 2013 to March this year, to test the direct payment of benefit to tenants ahead of the wider roll-out of universal credit over the next three years, reports Inside Housing.Its results show that...

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    Homeless young people receive help from Sunderland FC

    The club's largesse is part of its commitment to the International Mandela Day campaign, reports 24dash.Donated items come from first team players and club staff and range from training kits to toiletries.Mr Montgomery, who played in goal for Sunderland during their 1973 FA Cup Final win over Leeds United, said: "I visited the centre when it first opened and it's a fantastic place for the young...

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    The bedroom tax has impacted on grant allocations

    77% of homes to be developed in 2015-18 will be one and two bedroom homes due to the government requesting providers focus on smaller-sized properties, reports Inside Housing.This allocation has been interpreted as a reaction to the bedroom tax with tenant's under-occupying needing smaller homes.Melanie Rees, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: "It is quite...

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    Budgeting support for universal credit claimants outlined by DWP

    The DWP have said: "Universal credit will replace the complex myriad of means-tested benefits and make three million households better off. It will be simpler for people to navigate and harder for people to defraud, but most importantly it will make work pay."The DWP has said that it acknowledges most people can manage their money effectively, but for some putting a monthly household budget...

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    The Social Sector Need to Embrace Social Media

    On July 16-17th 2014 in Manchester, the National Federation of Arm's Length Management Organisation held their Annual Conference, AGM and Awards 2014: Building on firm foundations.The conference is designed to support ALMOs to embrace innovation and drive the delivery of excellent services to tenants and communities.Chief Executive of Halton Housing Trust, Nick Atkin (pictured left), delivered a...

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