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Information Bulletin

Summary of News and Publications from the Week ending 8 November 2013

JRF Activity
Move people into good sustainable jobs to cut the benefit bill – blog from Helen Barnard. What Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland can do to reduce child poverty – blog from Jim McCormick. What you can do about loneliness in your neighbourhood – blog from Tracey Robbins. ‘Let’s Talk About Loneliness’ – final film with reflections from people who have been involved in the Neighbourhood Approaches to Loneliness projects. Loneliness Resource Pack: A series of materials with lessons and experiences from the 3 year research programme including tips, ideas and case studies. How Comic Relief is helping people with dementia influence services and policies – blog from Philly Hare. Paying the Living Wage is just one step towards becoming an anti-poverty employer – blog from Katie Schmuecker.

The Government’s implementation so far of Universal Credit has been heavily criticised in a report from the Public Accounts Committee. The report cites a series of problems including lack of day to day control, lack of a comprehensive plan and the writing off of an estimated at £425m spent up to April. The report supports the successful delivery of the programme above sticking to original timescales – speeding up to try to still hit the 2017 completion date would pose more risks, claims the report. Read the full report. New Living Wage hourly rates have been announced as £7.65 (a 20p rise) for the UK outside London, and £8.80 (a 25p rise) for London. 432 employers are now signed up as living Wage supporters who have committed to paying the Living Wage in their organisation/ supply chain, 78 more than last year. An article for IPPR ‘The Cost of Low Pay’ concludes that every low-paid worker moved on to the living wage would save the government an average of £232 in lower social security spending and £445 in higher tax receipts. 1.96 million children were living in households earning below the living wage in 2012, say new estimates from Save the Children, up from 1.82 million in 2011. If elected, Labour plans to introduce ‘Make Work Pay’ contracts where employers who sign up to pay staff the Living Wage will receive a 12 months tax rebate of up to £1,000 (on average £445) for each worker. Ed Miliband’s speech on the cost of living this week continued to press his case for an

energy price freeze and cited other examples of Labour’s plans to cut the cost of living, including a proposed levy on payday lenders, a cap on regulated rail ticket increases, and a crackdown on private rental charges as well as tax breaks for employers to offer the Living Wage. DWP figure this week show that 553,000 people were affected by the new benefit sanctions between November 2012 and June 2013, compared to 499,000 in the same period last year, under the old rules. JRF’s response to sanctions statistics. The annual salary of a full-time worker on the minimum wage would be £770 higher in 2013 had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation since 2007, claims new analysis from the TUC. A new report from the Work Foundation examines the limitations of the current apprenticeships system for young people. It recommends improvements on issues around low pay, job insecurity and limited career progression. ‘The Road Less Travelled: improving the apprenticeship pathway for young people’. An appeal court ruling has found the Government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund for disabled people and transfer the assets to local authorities, unlawful. It ruled that the Government has breached its equality duty by failing to properly assess the impact of the fund closure. Campaigners and charities are calling on the Government to retain the fund following the decision. Three families have lost a legal challenge in the high court on the benefits cap, when the judges ruled that the cap did not breach their human rights. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a new report ‘Food Expenditure and Nutritional Quality over the Great Recession’. On average British households are spending 8.5% less on food than before the recession and have reduced the calories purchased by 3.6%. A reduction in the quality of food purchased was also evident. Households with young children reduced expenditure and calories more than other types of household. More and more children are experiencing problems with their wellbeing and mental health as a result of the impact of family problems such as poverty, illness and divorce, according to ‘The Red Book 2013’ from Action for Children. The publication includes survey findings on the impact of government spending cuts to support services. Of the front line support service managers who were surveyed, 64% said the needs of the children and young people they are working with increased on the last year, with 63% are seeing the need for more support for children to cope with their parent’s depression. A new report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research examines the positive long term effects of migration on productivity and attitudes in the UK, using interviews and focus groups with employers and the public. A new research report shows that UK immigrants contributed around 34% more in taxes than they received in benefits over the period 2001-11. Over the same period, immigrants were 45% less likely to receive benefits or tax credits than UK natives and 3% less likely to live in social housing. Read the full report. As austerity and public library cuts bite ever harder, rising numbers of unemployed and homeless people are turning to libraries for everything from advice on the benefits system to IT support and finding their way through Jobcentre Plus’s online job application portal – a first-hand account from a library assistant.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has released figures which show that fewer than 125,000 homes were added to the housing stock in the year to April 2013, 8% less than the year before and 100,000 fewer than at the peak of the housing market in 2007-8. Only 118,540 are new build homes, the remainder from conversions and change of use. ‘Taxing Issues? Reducing housing demand or increasing housing supply’, a new report from think tank Policy Exchange, looks at the barriers to home ownership, highlighting that Britain has the highest levels of property taxes in the developed world. The report recommends that policymakers should commit to building 1.5 million new homes by 2020 (300,000 new homes every year from 2015 – 2020) including the creation of at least one new garden city. It also argues that self-build should be used more, to help councils hit their house building targets. The Town and Country Planning Association has announced that in 2014, it will carry out the first comprehensive analysis of the success and failures of the existing garden cities and new towns. They also announced a Garden Cities guide for communities to be launched on 26th November 2013 highlighting the opportunities that incorporating Garden City principles at the local level can bring. A total of £3.5 million has been shared between 30 projects across the UK to further roll out the ‘No Second Night Out’ scheme. 2,090 homeless families are being housed in bed and breakfast style accommodation, the highest number for ten years, according to ‘Nowhere to Go’, a briefing report from Shelter. 760 of these families had been living in this accommodation longer than the recommended six weeks maximum, a 10% increase on last year. A survey by ComRes for the National Housing Federation of over 1,100 parents with adult children, has shown that 13% help with money towards rent while 16% have helped with money towards a deposit to buy a property. 9% of adult children are now asking for help to raise the money for a rental deposit. A 30 home affordable eco housing development in Fraserburgh is being developed with expertise from the Robert Gordon University, based on an award winning sustainable housing design. The development has secured funding from Scotland’s Greener Homes Innovation Scheme.

An Ageing Society
‘Let’s Talk About Loneliness’ – new film from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation with reflections from people who have been involved in the Neighbourhood Approaches to Loneliness projects in Bradford and York since 2010, showing examples of the groups, networks and activities that are now running in communities. Radio Five Live programme visits the Pear Tree Day Centre run by Age UK Milton Keynes to look at the impact of loneliness. The UK population is projected to rise from its 63.7 million in 2012 to 70 million by 2027 and 73.3 million by 2037. By 2037, the number of people aged 80 and over will more than double, and in spite of raising the state pension age, the number of people of state pension age by then will have increased by 31%.

The Local Government Association is calling on the Government to underwrite a national deferred payment scheme for social care costs for older people, which would be paid back from their estate when they die, a system which is already run by some councils using their own funds. The Alzheimer’s Society has launched the ‘Dementia 2014’ survey to find out how well people with dementia are living in their community. The responses will be included in the Dementia 2014 report to make the case for dementia to be a key priority for politicians. Dementia advisors and peer support networks running at 40 pilot sites, have demonstrated resource saving implications for the local health and social care economy, according to an evaluation by NHS England. They were also found to play a key role in raising awareness of dementia and tackling stigma. Homecare has the potential to transform the lives of people with dementia – Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, talks about the roundtable to promote good practice and innovation in homecare for people with dementia, held earlier this autumn. This Information Bulletin is produced on a weekly basis as an update for staff at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT) for the purposes of their work – it is not intended to be comprehensive but represents a selection of news and reports appearing in the last week. The items contained in this Bulletin are for information only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the JRF and JRHT.