Blog Archive

October 2014

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    New app aimed to help and prevent homelessness

    The app called ‘Living Smart' allows teenagers and young people to access advice on living choices and steps that can be taken to prevent homelessness. If they are already homeless they can get advice on ways to seek help and keep themselves safe.‘Living Smart' has been designed and set up by a group of young volunteers from SmartLivng, which is part of the LinkLiving charity in Kirkcaldy and...

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    Support for patients with vulnerabilities with eased pressure on hospitals

    Teams of social workers and NHS staff will soon become available seven days a week under new care plans, reports the BBC.Ministers are predicting that pressures will ease on hospitals from April once the Better Care Fund comes into place. The fund has been created to close the divide between health and care systems which sees elderly people affected.Ministers believe the plans will help prevent...

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    Cuts to employment and support allowance benefits

    With these cuts it could see new claimants being given just 50p more per week than people who are on job seekers allowance, reports the BBC. The Department for Work and Pensions have said the ESA proposals were not government policy.The papers reveal that the government has also been forced to hire extra staff to clear the backlog on the benefit.Employment and Support Allowance is paid to...

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    How one housing association is communicating online with people who have hearing impairments

    Wheatley Group's SignVideo, a British Sign Language interpretation service, has been developed to help tenants with hearing impairments the opportunity to contact their landlord directly without having to ask a friend or family member.This will mean that if a tenant with hearing impairments needs to report a repair or other problem they can click the SignVideo link on the website which will take...

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    Report finds that homelessness is only referred to in 36% of council's health plans

    In the report, Homeless Health Matters, it reveals that only 36% of councils make a reference to homeless people within their local health plans, reports Inside Housing.The cost of healthcare for someone who is homeless is almost four times higher than for the average person. For a rough sleeper with a high level of need, the cost can be almost 20 times as much.The report calls for early...

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    New planning guidance looks at accessibility in London

    The Accessible London Supplementary planning Guidance looks at lessons learnt through the use of inclusive design principles in the Olympic Park, reports 24dash.The guidance also contains a chapter on ‘accessible housing' which bulks out guidance in the current local plan to ensure all new homes are built to lifetime home standards. It also requires London boroughs to identify any shortage of...

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    The benefits of housing associations helping tenants get online

    Whilst your housing associations social media and online presence may be growing, it's also important that your association encourages tenants online too. Here we show you just some of the benefits getting tenants online can have for themselves, and your organisation:1)      Social Inclusion - With so many people online, and the online world presenting a great source of communication, it can...

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    Spending on public mental health services is too low says charity

    A report by Mind has found that on average only 1.4% of public health budgets is spent on mental health, reports the BBC. The Local Government Association has said councils did many positive things which the report has not recognised.Of the 152 local authorities in England, 87 replied to Mind's freedom of information requests about public mental health budgets.According to the report, local...

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    788 refunds for bedroom tax tenants secured by housing association

    MHS Homes has used a loophole to persuade Medway Council to reverse the benefit cut imposed on tenants, reports Inside Housing.Through this loophole MHS were able to exempt its tenants from the bedroom tax because whilst it is a large scale voluntary transfer association, it is unusual as it's not registered as a provider with the Homes and Communities Agency.Due to this LSVT status, its tenants...

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    3D maps could help people with visual impairments navigate cities

    The official mapping body for Japan GSI have already developed paper maps for those with visual impairments using embossed surfaces to mark out roads, and is now planning a programme which will do the same thing for digital maps, reports Springwise.The software will first differentiate between the motorways, railway lines and walkways from the rest of the landscape. It will then create a 3D model...

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    Pilot scheme to reduce homelessness has been launched in Edinburgh

    Specialist services will be delivered through a partnership with third sector organisations the Bethany Christian Trust, Edinburgh Cyrenian Trust, Foursquare and CHAI (Community Help and Advice Initiative), reports 24dash. Work is being done by the council, providers and service users in partnership with housing support services to place emphasis of prevention via mentoring, befriending group...

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    Research shows 16% of universal credit renters are in arrears after three months

    The figure has been revealed by the Department for Work and Pensions in its universal credit ‘Pathfinder Evaluation' report, reports 24dash.The reports investigates universal credit claimant experiences in the pathfinder areas where initial eligibility criteria has been focused on singled, unemployed, non-home owning claimants who do not have any children.Most of the research was carried out...

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    The benefits of Skype for your social organisation and charity

    Skype is a great organisation tool, however many overlook the platform in their social media presence. Here we show you some of the benefits of using Skype in your organisation:•       Cost effective - you can use Skype wherever you like (as long as there's WiFi) meaning you no longer have to travel long distances to meetings or visits, saving you the cost of commuters fairs. Skype is...

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    Changes to care services in Gloucester

    With an ageing population, an increased use of council services and continued funding cuts, Gloucestershire County Council have been thinking of ways they can save money after losing £114m since 2010, reports The Gloucester Citizen. A framework has been developed to see where savings could be potentially made. A key focus for the councils is to get people more independent, so that they do not...

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    Digital makeover heading towards job centres

    Centres around the UK will see electronic pads that recognise job seekers' signatures using biometric software along with PC workstations and free wi-fi, reports the BBC.The computers will operate on the government's network and share the same level of security against hacking and viruses. The London Bridge Jobcentre has already tested this out,"We've moved away from customers coming in and...

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    Facebook profile, page or group: Which should your social organisation or charity choose?

    In this post we aim to explain what each of these accounts are and which will be best for your organisation.Profile - a Facebook profile is there to represent an individual. It is not made for commercial use, and Facebook can often remove profiles that have been made to represent commercial brands and organisations. Profiles can be (and probably are) used by your employees to connect with...

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    Universal credit will be rolled out by 2018

    A report by the Department for Work and Pensions has said the results from pilot projects are ‘encouraging', reports the BBC.The DWP had originally promised to have one million people on the new benefits system by April 2014 however the project has suffered numerous delays since its creation.The report presented by Mr Duncan Smith said 14,170 were claiming the credit, which is expected to rise...

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    Families in London would be unable to afford rent if the benefit cap is lowered

    If the Conservative's policy is implemented developing landlords in London have said they could be forced to radically scale back development as a result, reports Inside Housing. David Cameron announced on Monday that the benefit cap - currently £26,000 a year - would be further reduced to £23,000 if the Conservatives win a majority in next year's general election, affecting a further 70,000...

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    Social care sector could benefit from new app

    Residata and Emerald apps have created a mobile app aimed at helping the social care sector with its care management.The system is currently available for deployment on Android mobile devices and provides a digital replacement to traditional paper-based methods of recording the outcomes of care and support visits, reports 24dash.Support workers are able to plan their working day on the app, along...

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    Increase of in-work benefit claimants linked to benefit overpayments

    A report by the National Audit Office has found that the rate in error of housing benefit has gone up by 4.4% in 2013/14 from 3.8% in 2012/13, reports Inside Housing.The report states that this is mainly due to claimants failing to inform councils or give details of their changes in income, although there is no fraudulent intent."The main source of claimant error comes from unreported...

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    Too many people with mental health problems end up in cells

    The CQC say that people are being turned away from hospitals due to full wards, staff shortages or because they were too young or too drunk, reports the BBC. Police cells are inappropriate and make people feel "punished for being unwell", said the charity Mind.The CQC has said that in some areas, patients are well provided for however this standard is not universal.Between 2012 and 2013, in...

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    Could Twitter's new feature make the platform more accessible for people with vulnerabilities?

    The new Audio Card has been launched in partnership with SoundCloud and allows you to listen to music and podcasts through, and whilst on, the Twitter app.There is a list of SoundCloud partners in which you can listen to audio content through the app on Twitters blog.Twitter say that they're just beginning to test the Audio Card and then plan to make it available to more partners and creators in...

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    A paralysed man has been able to walk again following cell transplant

    Darek Fidyka, who was paralysed from the chest down following a knife attack in 2010, is now able to walk using a frame, reports the BBC. The treatment is a world first and was carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with scientists in London. Details of the research are published in the journal Cell Transplantation.Mr Fidyka He said walking again - with the support of a frame - was...

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    Charity reveals homeless do need night shelters

    A report by the charity Housing Justice has found that 1,577 guests were offered overnight shelter in London last year. Of those guests 888 had been street homeless, 317 on the street for over six months and 322 were new to the street, reports Inside Housing. Housing Justice chief executive Alison Gelder said: ‘This report busts some of the outdated myths about night shelters.  For example,...

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    Mobile phone company collecting smartphones to help victims of domestic violence

    The drive will run through to the end of November and coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The organisers believe that donated phones will help victims of domestic violence feel safer and less isolated as they'll have a way to call emergency or support services, family, friends and employers."Verizon Wireless' goal is to place phones in the hands of as many domestic violence...

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    Former coroner says mental health units are "starved of resources"

    Ex-coroner William Armstrong, of Healthwatch Norfolk, said cuts meant "more misery" for patients and their families, reports the BBC. He said he had seen a "fragmented and uncoordinated" approach to mental health during his time as a coroner.Mental health has been found to be underfunded by 10% (£10bn) by the mental health commission. The commission has said that mental health currently...

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    Mental health care for new mothers is costing £ 8bn due to poor care

    The report by the London School of Economics and the Centre for Mental Health has found that for all births in a year, there would be a long-term cost of over £8bn stemming from mental health problems, reports the BBC. One in five women develop some form of mental health issue either during pregnancy or after birth, with an increased risk of depression, anxiety and psychoses such as bipolar...

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    Shortage of beds and poor ward environments affecting mental health services

    The Care Quality Commission have found substandard ward environments and problems with beds along with intensive care for unwell patients are key issues affecting mental health services which would be unacceptable in other areas of the NHS.The report highlights four key areas of concern in mental health services, reported by Community Care:•         Unavailability of admission...

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    Government plan to offer cheap lending for housing for older people

    The government has yet to release details of ‘Phase two' of the Department of Health's (DoH) £300m care and support specialised housing fund but Inside Housing understands it will take the form of low-cost loans or equity stakes on terms similar to the government's Build to Rent fund.Landlords will be able to access around £170m in DoH funding in the programme's second phase.The first...

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    Millions of older people living in poverty

    A new report has found that 1.6m pensioners in the UK are living below the poverty line and are "floundering" on low incomes, reports the BBC.The report, called How We Can End Pensioner Poverty, said that many pensioners "had been walking a tightrope in recent years," as food and utility bills have risen, however the biggest cause of poverty was that people are missing out on £5.5bn worth of...

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    First reading passed for bedroom tax carer bill

    Tabled by Labour MP Barbara Keeley 204 MPs voted for the ten minute rule, whilst eight voted against, reports Inside Housing. Under the proposed legislation, social tenants with an additional room will be exempt from the bedroom tax if a member of the household is entitled to carers allowance or requires overnight care.This vote means the Carers Bedroom Entitlement (Social Housing Sector)...

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    Income divide widened by social housing tenant's debt

    Merseyside-based Riverside's 'Challenging Times, Changing Lives' project is following 20 tenants over three years to assess how people are coping with the government's austerity measures, reports 24dash.The fourth of the projects' six-monthly updates has revealed that the lowest income group is experiencing a greater struggle than previously reported. This group has taken on more debts to cover...

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    Single homeless people turned away from housing help

    The charity Crisis conducted a mystery shopping exercises which covered sixteen local authorities across England and found that many homeless people are forced to sleep on the streets, ‘sofa surf' or live in squats, despite seeking help, reports Inside Housing.Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said the findings were ‘nothing short of a scandal'. The mystery shoppers presented themselves...

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    Sheltered housing scheme residents answer emergency telecare calls

    Circle Housing Russet gave the people living in its nine sheltered accommodation schemes the chance to find out what actually happens if they press the telecare alarm button installed within their homes, reports 24dash. Joyce Singer, one of the shadow staff, said: "We had a most interesting and enlightening afternoon which gave us an insight into what happens when a cord or button is used. The...

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    End of life patients are lacking support

    The charity has found that almost 92% of NHS clinical commissioning groups do not provide round the clock telephone helplines, reports the BBC.Guidelines say there should be 24-hour telephone services and the NHS says it is "working hard to make changes".Out of 180 CCGs which responded to requests for information from the charity, only 8% said their local area had a dedicated 24-hour help line...

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    Young people leaving care forced into ‘unsafe housing'

    Research by Charity Action for Children has lead the charity to urge policymakers to improve support systems and take care of young people's emotional and mental well-being to prevent them from failing through the net, reports Inside Housing.‘The most vulnerable young people who have been in care are forced to grow up too quickly,' the charity's paper said. ‘Too many young people who have...

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    UK welfare reforms attacked by Scottish minister

    A report by the Scottish Government has looked at the impact of changes to benefit uprating implemented by the UK government since 2010/11, reports Herald Scotland. The changes will reduce welfare expenditure in Scotland by around £6 billion over the six years to 2015-16, it is claimed. Families with two children receiving child benefit will be £1,100 worse off over that period.Deputy First...

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    Plans to cut mental health units for young people

    NHS guidelines say that if a young person is admitted to an adult mental health ward then an independent advocate should be appointed for that person, reports the BBC.Health Minister Mark Drakeford said children "should be accommodated in the most suitable environment". In a joint report last year, the Wales Audit Office and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales said that despite some improvement...

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    More PRS housing support is needed for young people

    The all-party parliamentary group on the private rented sector wants the government to review housing benefit rule and loosen planning restrictions on rented property, reports Inside Housing.In the reports it also calls on the government to examine whether planning powers are unduly restricting the supply of new private homes to rent.Oliver Colvile MP, chairman of the all-party parlimentary group...

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    #OpSafeWinter launched by UK Anonymous

    Launched on World Homeless Day in an international effort to battle against homelessness, Anonymous branches around the world will work alongside other social justice campaigns, reports RT.Founded in November last year the programme developed out of an array of charitable projects, and in 2013, OpSafeWinter provided homeless support in 12 different countries. It was particularly active in...

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    Lawyers warn that victims of domestic violence are forced to face abusers in court

    Family law specialists are warning that cuts in legal aid are leading to a rise in litigation-in-person cases, reports The Independent.Emma Pearmaine, a family law specialist at Simpson Millar and director of the Leeds Law Society, said: "The number of women being cross-examined by abusive ex-partners in court has doubled in my experience since 2013. Judges do their best to step in and control...

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    Bedroom tax victims account for a third of all evictions in Stoke

    Figures shows that in the last eighteen months 65 households were served their notices by Stoke-on-Trent City Council after they'd fallen behind on their rent, however 25 of those families were evicted due to the government's bedroom tax, reports The Mirror.Due to this North Staffs Against Cuts is calling on the council to introduce a no eviction policy for people who are affected by the Bedroom...

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    Health bodies ignoring the homeless, report reveals

    A report by St Mungo's Broadway and Homeless Link has shown that 64% of council health strategies made no mention of single homeless people and 14% made no mention of homeless people at all, reports Inside Housing. The study analysed 50 health and wellbeing boards which looked at joint strategic needs assessments and joint health and wellbeing strategies.Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St...

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    Increase in demand for homelessness charity

    Emmaus, which supports people who were formerly homeless a place to live and employment in a social enterprise, has seen its waiting list increase by 30% and referrals increased by 29% in the last year, reports 24dash. The charity has found that 47% of people approach them as they will be offered the opportunity to work, whilst 78% of existing ‘companions' say the opportunity to work is the...

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    Proposed benefit rule labelled ‘worse than poor law'

    The Social Security Advisory Committee is currently cons ulting on the proposals which George Osborne first announced in June 2013, reports Inside Housing.The seven day wait would occur on top of the month and seven days is the current wait for universal credit claimants who make a claim before receiving benefits.Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the CIH, said the institute has...

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    Proposed benefits freeze could leave claimants losing £558m

    In a manifesto pledge last week George Osborne has announced a plan to freeze working-age benefits for two years from April 2016, reports Inside Housing.Policy and practise officer at the CIH, Sam Lister, has calculated that this policy will see 1.4 million claimants lose £185m in housing benefit in 2016/17 and £373m in 2017/18.Mr Lister said: "This policy is an attack on the poor generally,...

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    Housing association prepares tenants for change to benefits

    Rhondda Cynon Taff Homes, which says UC represents the "greatest change to benefits in a generation", will see the new system rolled out in its area next February, reports 24dash.They believe that universal credit could affect almost 6,000 of its tenants and up to 50,000 people in the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taff.In response, RCT Homes launched its '1,2,3...Ready' campaign earlier this year to...

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    Landmark tribunal ruling could make it tougher for people appealing against bedroom tax

    An upper tier tribunal last month ruled that all first tier tribunals must follow a High Court ruling in favour of the bedroom tax, meaning over 100 current claims against the policy are unlikely to succeed, reports Inside Housing. The tribunal has ruled in favour of the government's policy against a disabled Inverclyde housing association tenant and concluded that all courts must follow a High...

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    First mental health waiting targets introduced

    From next April people with depression should begin "talking therapy" treatments within eighteen weeks, and young people with psychosis for the first time will be seen within fourteen days, which is the same target as cancer patients, reports the BBC. This new plan will also see suicidal patients get the same priority as people who have suspected heart attacks.But Mr Clegg will pledge to extend...

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    Liberal Democrat members vote against removing the bedroom tax

    The party have promised to reform the policy so it will only apply to people who have turned down suitable alternative accommodation and will blanket exemptions for some people with disabilities reports Inside Housing.The amendment to remove the benefit reduction was rejected by members at the manifesto debate at the party's conference in Glasgow.Speaking against the amendment, Lord Mike German,...

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    Universal credit flaws exposed by social housing tenants

    First Choice Homes Oldham, one of four initial pilots in 2013's roll out of universal credit, found that many of their tenants had suffered multiple frustrations and complications with the system, and many were having to choose between heating or eating, reports 24dash. Carried out via a telephone survey this summer, the data collected from 40% of FCHO's tenants currently on UC found that:•...

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    Housing associations play a vital role in tackling homelessness

    The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has told parliament that the sector plays a vital role in implementing forward-thinking homelessness legislation, reports 24dash.Speaking ahead of the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee Inquiry into Homelessness in Scotland, Andy Young, SFHA policy and membership manager, said: "It isn't simply a matter of providing properties and...

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    Supported housing scheme receives three stars for excellence

    Dacorum Borough Council is the first local authority to receive the award from the Centre for Housing Support, reports Hemel Today. The supported housing scheme provides accommodation to older people who can live on their own but would like support to be close by. 31 schemes are run across the borough and each was independently assessed on seven key areas.Council cabinet member for housing...

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    Charity urging public to bring Christmas to life for homeless people

    The Crisis Christmas campaign will run between 23-30th of December and is hoping to open centres across London, Newcastle and Edinburgh to help provide homeless people with hot meals, warmth, companionship, healthcare and specialist advice on housing, work and benefits, reports 24dash.Crisis warn that homelessness has risen by 37% in the last three years and in London alone 6,508 people slept...

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    Supported housing service for women and their children has received funding for community garden

    Endeavour Housing Associaiton's Rainham House temporary accommodation service has been awarded funding for their Roots and Shoots garden project. Working in partnership with community allotment organisation Dig It, the service will use the money to create a garden area and deliver gardening workshops for residents and their children, reports Bdaily.The project is aiming to provide tenants and...

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    Removal of housing benefits to under 21's to be resisted by Lib Dems

    Communities minister Stephen Williams has said that the Tory party's flagship housing and welfare policies would be resisted by the Liberal Democrats if they find themselves in coalition again after the 2015 election, reports Inside Housing. "We fought them already in this government about taking away housing benefit from young people. Personally I think that is utterly crazy," he said in an...

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    Councils will cut emergency welfare if the government cut their funding

    Ministers have been warned that almost three quarters of local authorities will abandon or reduce welfare schemes aimed at providing emergency hep for people with vulnerabilities from next April due to government funding cuts, reports the Guardian. One in six councils has said they would be unable to afford to run a crisis safety net scheme if the government presses ahead with its plans to...

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    Mental health pilot scheme launched to help people find work

    The £2m pilots are all in England and will run for six months. The voluntary scheme will help some people on Employment and Support Allowance be offered employment support psychiatric help, reports the BBC.The pilots are running in•         Durham & Tees Valley•         Shropshire/Telford•         Sussex•         WolverhamptonThe Department of Health and...

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    Social landlords urged to make do without grants

    Speaking to Inside Housing at the Conservative Party conference this week, Mr Lewis said: "If housing associations want to survive without government funding, that's a good thing."He said it would be ‘great' if landlords abandon state grant entirely."It means that the taxpayer is able to save even more money,'"he said. "And it also means the government can then say "OK, how can we use this...

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    Rise in the number of working households claiming benefits

    In a report by the NHF it shows that middle income households earning £20,000-£30,000 a year have accounted for two thirds of all new housing benefit claims over the last six years, reports 24dash.With the number of households claiming housing benefits despite being in work rising by 22% since 2008 the NHF are predicting that it could rise even further in the next five years.The NHF believe...

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    Supporting People budget cut by £10m by the Welsh government

    A draft budget shows the government announcing plans to cut the budget for Supporting People from £134.4m in 2014/15 to £124.4m in 2015/16 which is a drop of 7.4%, reports Inside Housing.Despite these cuts the Welsh government will provide an additional £32m in housing initiatives the next financial year.The funding will be provided across five areas, including a £10m loan fund for social...

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    Housing association secures Bristol flats to house the homeless

    Merlin Housing Society is buying numerous one-bedroom flats across Bristol to lease to the charity 1625 Independent People, reports 24dash.Using a £200,000 grant from Bristol City Council's capital programme, which is aimed at increasing the number of smaller properties available to people with vulnerabilities, Merlin will purchase the flats.Merlin's head of development, Michelle Thomas, said:...

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    Scotland sees a fall in homelessness applications

    Official figures show that Scottish local authorities received 9,000 applications for homelessness assistance during April to June 2014 which is a 7% decrease on the same period last year, reports Inside Housing.The number of people assessed as homeless, or likely to become homeless within two months, also dropped by 3% to 7,500 from the second quarter of last year to this.Graeme Brown, director...

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    Universal credit roll out to be sped up

    Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary has said that the welfare reform will be running in all of the country's job centres from early next year, reports 24dash.Mr Duncan Smith claimed that the "significant acceleration" was a "sign of the success of the policy so far. UC is a vision for a new welfare settlement; a welfare state fit for the 21st century; a testament to the hard work...

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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