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Information Bulletin

Summary of News and Publications from the Week ending 13 June 2014

JRF Activity
Publication - Improving quality of life in care homes through community visiting.

Publication - Wages, taxes and top-ups: the changing role of the state in helping working
families make ends meet.

Press Release - Parties’ plans for £11billion tax cuts will miss out poorer working families.

Blog from Helen Barnard – Breadline Kids – families need real child poverty strategy.

Publication - Referendum Briefing – Poverty and Work in Scotland.
JRF’s response to Alan Milburn’s Child Poverty Report – ‘Political will and Proper Plan
needed to stem the Rising Tide of Child Poverty’.

Poverty
The 2020 child poverty targets will be missed by a ‘considerable margin’, with 23.5% of
children expected to be in relative poverty by then, more than double the 10% target and
27.2% of children in absolute poverty, more than 5 times the 5% target, say the Social
Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in response to the government’s proposed child
poverty strategy. It argues that the strategy does not give enough attention to in work
poverty, the challenges parents face in a flexible labour market, or the lack of jobs in the
labour market, to enable parents to increase their working hours.

The government should urgently commission and publish independent research on the
underlying reasons behind growth in the need for food aid, and a separate review of the
impact of social security sanctions, says a new food poverty report from Oxfam, Church
Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust. In 2013/14, over 20.2 million meals were given out
by the three main food aid providers, 54% more than 2012/13. The figures have been
disputed this week by government ministers. ‘Below the Breadline: the Relentless Rise of
Food Poverty in Britain’.

A new skills manifesto is calling for an independent review of the UK’s long-term skills needs
and funding issues, equivalent in status to the national reviews of pensions and social care
reviews. It also calls for more localism for skills and Personal Skills Accounts for all adults,
along with structured career reviews.

The gradual erosion of some families’ surplus income due to rising prices has led to new
kinds of debt problems, according to a report from the National Debtline. The debt advice
service has seen a 140% rise in calls about household debts since 2007 and makes
recommendations for government, local authorities, creditors and advice agencies on how to
help alleviate the problems. ‘Changing Household Budgets’


The unemployment rate in the UK fell to 6.6% in the three months to April, with
unemployment now at 2.16 million. Earnings growth over the quarter, however, fell to 0.7%
compared to a figure of 1.9% in March. Analysts suggest the fall in unemployment may not
be enough to trigger an interest rate rise, with wage growth falling again.

Lack of price competition is adding to the cost of payday loans to customers, say the
Competition and Markets Authority. They estimate there were 1.8 million payday loan
customers in the UK in 2012, taking out around just over 10 million loans, worth £2.8bn.

Place
There were 2.28 million households in England in fuel poverty in 2012, a fall of almost 5%
compared to 2011, according to DECC’s latest Annual Fuel Poverty Statistics report – the
change is attributed to income increases in the higher earning fuel poor households.
Households living in privately rented accommodations continued to have the highest fuel
poverty rates. The number of fuel poor households is predicted to increase to 2.33 million in
2014.

An average home would cost private landlords £1,500 to bring it up to minimum energy
efficiency standards, says a new UK Green Building Council report, with 70% costing less
than £1,000. Tenants, they estimate, would save £400 in energy bills per year on average.

Housing provider Home Group is working with the New Economics Foundation on a new
approach to affordable housebuilding, where developers would attract a mix of tenancies
that would deliver an agreed total income. When the housing market is overheated, higher
income from private rents would be used to subsidise social tenancies at various rent levels,
including a rate lower than the current Affordable Rent.

Ofgem is asking the top six energy suppliers to explain to customers what impact falling
wholesale prices will have on their prices, to help demonstrate that the market is still
competitive.

Read the Storify summary of the ‘Housing goes Digital’ CIH event #hgd14.

A survey of over 1,600 tenants for the g15 group of housing associations in London, found
that 23% were in rent arrears. 56% of housing benefit recipients, who were in arrears,
attributed it to problems with its administration.

Listen to the Radio 4 panel debate on the housing crisis, with Mark Easton, broadcast on
Wednesday. ‘Housing: where will we live?’

An Ageing Society

A key part of any future fuel poverty strategy must be to improve health outcomes,
recommends a new report from Age UK. Energy improvement programmes should be locally
owned and driven, work for rural as well as urban areas and must be based on whole house
assessments, not just a single energy efficiency measure. ‘Reducing fuel poverty – a
scourge for older people’.

A one-stop local health and housing referral service for older people at risk of ill health from
living in cold homes should be provided, with access to grants for housing insulation and
heating, says new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
(NICE). The guidance, to help reduce illness and death among older people in the Winter.
Also, vulnerable hospital patients should not be discharged to a cold home.

A new paper from the International Longevity Centre UK, proposes a model for a state
Equity Bank, to help older people release income from their homes as a lifelong annuity for
living on and paying care costs, in return for selling a portion of the equity in their homes to
the state - the value of the annuity is recovered on the death of the recipient.

Other
Briefings from the House of Commons Library on the potential impact of a Scottish
independence Yes vote on the UK.

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.