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3/27/2015 9:26:20 AM

Number of children living in temporary accommodation in England at six-year high

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The number of children living in temporary accommodation in England is at a six-year high, according to Department for Communities and Local Government figures.

90,450 children were living in temporary accommodation in the last quarter of 2014, a rise of almost 10,000 in a year.

Child development

This news comes at the same time as new analysis from the Early Intervention Foundation found a fifth of children lacked the expected personal, social and emotional development by the age of five - with large average differences in behaviour and emotional health between the poorest and richest children. These could be seen as early as age three and continued until age 11.

Sources: BBC News: Homeless children at six-year high, figures show (link opens in a new window) and BBC News: Many young pupils 'can't communicate' (link opens in a new window)

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Further information

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Also in the news

Armed Forces

Energy

National debt

Welfare and pension policies

Date of publication: 27 March 2015

3/25/2015 11:29:19 AM

Young adults under 30 now make up the biggest share of those experiencing poverty in Scotland

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Young adults under 30 now make up the biggest share of those experiencing poverty in Scotland, according to new research by the New Policy Institute (NPI) for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). They are also the age-group at highest risk (25 per cent) of poverty and are the only age group to have seen an increase in poverty levels since 2003.

Rises in the number of young people in poverty

Published today, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Scotland 2015, finds rises in the number of young people in poverty and persistently high levels of disadvantage in health, education and work.

Around one in every eight under-25s is unemployed, twice as high as any other age group. But 43 per cent of people in poverty live in working households, showing that work by itself is not an adequate route out of poverty.

The last ten years has also seen a shift in housing costs and tenure. The average private renter now spends almost a quarter of their income on housing, compared to 18 per cent of social renters’ income and 11 per cent for owner-occupiers with a mortgage. Over the same period the proportion of homes in the private rented sector has almost doubled to 15 per cent.

Key findings of the research

The research shows:

  • Young adults under 30 are now at a higher risk than any other age group of experiencing poverty in Scotland – the only age group to have seen an increase over the last ten years.
  • Child and pensioner poverty rates have fallen from 33 per cent for both groups in 1996/97 to 22 per cent and 11 per cent respectively in 2012/13.
  • 920,000 people in Scotland lived in poverty in 2012/13, 230,000 less than ten years before.
  • The number of people living in poverty in the Private Rented Sector has risen sharply, whilst falling in the social sector and among owner-occupiers. 29 per cent of people who are in poverty live in the private rented sector, up from 11 per cent 10 years ago.
  • Life expectancy in Scotland is still lower than in England: men in the poorest parts of Scotland live 3.9 years less than in the poorest parts of England. Only two Scottish local authority areas have a higher life expectancy than the England average,
  • The attainment gap, based on results at S4, between pupils who live in deprived and wealthier areas remains wide. The gap has narrowed slightly, but at the current rate of progress, it would take 28 years for pupils in the bottom quintile to reach today’s level of attainment of those in the top.
  • Better qualified people are increasingly finding themselves in low-paid work. In 2013, 13 per cent of low-paid workers had a degree, compared to 5 per cent in 2003, while the proportion with no qualifications had fallen from 23 per cent to 9 per cent.
  • People who work part-time, are low paid or lower qualified are less likely to get in-work training. Female employees who have Highers or higher qualifications are twice as likely to get in-work training as those who don’t.
  • At its peak in 2013 almost one in six JSA claimants were being referred for a sanction each month. This is double the highest rate in the years before 2006.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation's recommendations

To reduce levels of poverty in Scotland, JRF recommends:

  • Encouraging employers to pay the living wage, and increasing opportunities for people in low-paid, insecure work to access in-work training.
  • Building more genuinely affordable good quality homes in areas accessible to employment opportunities and halting the fall in the proportion of affordable social housing in the overall market.
  • Government need to ensure all schools have access to timely attainment data so schools can develop effective approaches to reducing the attainment gap based on data and evidence. Proven teaching methods such as peer-tutoring and one-to-one tutoring, study skills, mentoring opportunities and working with parents on supporting children’s learning at home can also help those from poorer families.
  • Sanctions should only be used as a last resort after all other means are exhausted. The use of sanctions has increased greatly and it appears they are being applied both hastily and inconsistently. There needs to be much better communication between Job Centre Plus and claimants about how and when sanctions will be applied.

Anti-poverty strategy

JRF is writing the first evidence-based, costed, UK wide anti–poverty strategy for all ages to be published early next year.

Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation news item: The changing face of poverty in Scotland: young adults and those privately renting now at greater risk (link opens in a new window) 

Turn2us resources

If you are struggling to make ends meet, help may be available to you through benefits and grants, depending on your needs, circumstances and background.

Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search

Use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

Turn2us information pages

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help. 

Also in the news

Disability

Scotland

Young carers

Date of publication: 25 March 2015

3/24/2015 11:15:49 AM

MPs call for a benefits sanctions inquiry

Parliament UK website: Work and Pensions Select Committee - MPs call for full independent review of benefit sanctions (link opens in a new window)


 

A full independent review should be established in the new Parliament to investigate whether benefit sanctions are being applied appropriately, fairly and proportionately, across the Jobcentre Plus (JCP) network, says the Work and Pensions Committee in a report published today.

New evidence raises concerns

The Committee reiterates this recommendation, originally made in January 2014 but rejected by the Government, in the light of new evidence. This raises concerns about the approach being adopted in a number of individual Jobcentres, and more broadly, including concerns about whether targets for sanctions exist.

The report calls for the independent review also to examine the legislative framework for benefit sanctions policy to ensure that the basis for sanctioning is well-defined and that safeguards to protect the vulnerable are clearly set out.

Comments from Committee's Chair

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said:

"Benefit sanctions are controversial because they withhold subsistence-level benefits from people who may have little or no other income. We agree that benefit conditionality is necessary but it is essential that policy is based on clear evidence of what works in terms of encouraging people to take up the support which is available to help them get back into work. The policy must then be applied fairly and proportionately. The system must also be capable of identifying and protecting vulnerable people, including those with mental health problems and learning disabilities. And it should avoid causing severe financial hardship. The system as currently applied does not always achieve this."

Source: Parliament UK website: Work and Pensions Select Committee - MPs call for full independent review of benefit sanctions (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Cap on care costs

Carers

Children

Older people

Date of publication: 24 March 2015

3/23/2015 10:23:09 AM

Women and welfare reform: Scottish Welfare Reform Committee launches inquiry

Scottish Welfare Reform information on its consultation on women and welfare reform (link opens in a new window)


 

The Scottish Welfare Reform Committee has launched an inquiry into the experiences of women when dealing with the recent welfare reforms.

What the Committee would like to know

The Committee wants to know: What is the impact of welfare reform on women?

The Committee would also like submissions to address the following questions (including, where appropriate, comments or examples of the particular ways in which you see women’s experience differing from men)

  • What is your (or your clients) experience of being on benefits or employment support?
  • How has your (or your clients) experience with the benefit system changed in recent years since the introduction of the welfare reforms?
  • Are there any challenges involved in being in receipt of your (your clients) particular benefits?
    What would be your priorities for change when certain benefits / elements of employment support are devolved to Scotland?
  • Do you have any suggestions of practical improvements that you would like to see when certain benefits/elements of employment support are under Scottish control?

While the Committee is seeking a woman’s perspective on the issues of welfare reform it welcomes views from all interested parties.

Submitting written evidence to the Committee

The Committee invites all interested individuals and organisations to submit written evidence on the experiences of women when dealing with the recent welfare reforms.

Submissions should ideally be no more than four pages of A4. Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to the following email address: WelfareReformCommittee@scottish.parliament.uk

Before submitting your evidence, please read the Parliament’s Policy on Treatment of Written Evidence by Subject and Mandatory Committees

Responses can also be sent by post to: Clerk to the Welfare Reform Committee, Room TG.01, Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

You may also share your views by tweeting the Committee using the hashtag #womenandwelfare.

Closing date

The closing date for receipt of submissions is Friday 1 May.

The Committee intends to take oral evidence during May and June 2015.

Source: The Scottish Parliament: Women and Welfare (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Debt

Wales and the Discretionary Assistance Fund

Date of publication: 23 March 2015

3/20/2015 10:54:07 AM

Scottish Government publishes information on benefits being devolved to Scotland

The Scottish Government: Scottish Government sets out first details on devolved benefits (link opens in a new window)


 

The Scottish Government has published detailed information on the scale and reach of social security benefits to be devolved to Scotland.

These include:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Care's Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (closed for working-age claimants)
  • Discretionary Housing Payments
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Social Fund Payments: Cold Weather Payments, Funeral Payments, Sure Start Maternity Grant, Winter Fuel Payment.

Scottish statistics

The new report gives Scottish specific statistics on each of the 11 benefits that will be controlled by the Scottish Parliament, such as number of claims, gender and age breakdown and current spending on these benefits in Scotland.

These benefits accounted for £2.5 billion expenditure in 2013/14 - nearly £1.5 billion was on Disability Living Allowance while just £1 million went on Cold Weather Payments.

Comment from Scottish Government's Social Justice Secretary

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said:

"I welcome the new social security powers coming to Scotland and this publication helps us understand the scale and reach of these benefits.

"Devolving social security powers gives us more opportunity to tackle inequality and improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland. It also gives us a chance to show that there is an alternative to the UK Government’s welfare cuts.

"We must consider how the new powers can complement devolved services and I look forward to listening to people and organisations across Scotland over the next few months to hear their ideas on how we can use these powers to the very best effect.”

Source: The Scottish Government news item: Scottish Government sets out first details on devolved benefits (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Carers

Dementia

Migrants

Pensions

Universal Credit

Welfare spending

Date of publication: 20 March 2015

3/19/2015 9:22:45 AM

George Osborne delivers the Budget 2015

HM Treasury information on the Budget 2015 (link opens in a new window)


 

Among the measures announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in his pre-election Budget yesterday, were the following which may affect Turn2us users:

Armed Forces

Armed Forces: £25 million to support army veterans, including nuclear test veterans.

Benefits fraud and error

Increased use of 'real time information' shared between HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to further reduce fraud and error in the benefits system.

Bereavement

The Bereavement Support Payment will replace three bereavement benefits from April 2017 and will be exempt from income tax. Widows of police officers and firefighters who choose to marry again will have their existing pensions protected.

Housing

A new "Help to Buy" Instant Savings Account (ISA) will allow the Government to top up by £50 every £200 saved for a deposit.

Mental health

A package of measures was announced to better support people with mental health conditions. This includes early access to supported Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the co-location of Increased Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) staff in Jobcentres. The latter will begin with Streatham Jobcentre Plus.

National Minimum Wage (NMW)

The Government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations for increases to the adult, 18-19 and 16-17 (NMW) rates. The adult NMW rate will increase by 3.1% to £6.70 from October 2015. The apprentice rate will increase by 57p an hour to £3.30.

Pensioners

There will be additional flexibility for pensioners outside the scope of the Pensions Flexibilities announced in the 2014 Budget to exchange their annuities purchased with their pension pots for a capital sum. This will enable people who purchased an annuity before the introduction of the new flexibilities the opportunity to adjust their retirement provision to convert an income - in whole or in part - to a capital lump sum. This will not affect their entitlement to normal state pension. A full consultation document will be published on this.

£19.5 million in 2015-2016 will be used to support the new pension flexibilities and the new pensions guidance service, Pension Wise, provided by Citizens Advice.

Postgraduate students

There will be a consultation on a proposal to offer loans of up to £25,000 for UK students studying for PhDs and research-based masters' degrees.

Savings

The first £1,000 interest on savings income is to be tax-free for basic rate taxpayers and £500 allowance for 40% tax ratepayers.

The annual savings limit for Instant Savings Accounts (ISAs) has been increased to £15,240. 'Fully flexible' ISA will allow savers to withdraw money and put it back later in the hear without losing any of the tax-free allowance.

Tax

Personal allowances will be increased to £10,800 in 2016-17 and to £11,000 in 2017-18.

The Marriage Allowance will also rise in line with the personal allowance.

The Higher-rate threshold will rise in line with the personal allowance to £42,000 in 2016-17 and £43,000 in 2017-2018.

Universal Credit and European Economic Area (EEA) migrants

The Budget also confirms a previously announced measure to restrict the ability for EEA migrants to access Universal Credit (UC). This means that EEA migrants residing in the UK as 'jobseekers' will not be able to access UC at all.

The Government's Welfare Budget

£12 billion in further welfare savings are needed by 2017/2018, Mr Osborne said.

Working Tax Credit (WTC) and self-employed people

From 6 April 2015, self-employed claimants of WTC will be required to be undertaking an activity that is commercial and profitable or working towards profitability. This test will apply to the working hours required to qualify for WTC as a self-employed claimant.

Charities' reactions to the Budget 2015

Turn2us

Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Elizabeth Finn Care and Turn2us, said

"Today’s budget will no doubt prompt renewed debate – and disagreement – on the impact any economic recovery is having on real people. Regardless of the politics, the fact remains there are millions of people in the UK who are genuinely struggling financially. We hear on a daily basis of families having to make choices that most of us would find incomprehensible just to meet ends meet.

"So, amidst any discussion on whether the Budget is or isn’t going to help, it’s doubly important that people who are affected by financial hardship know that there is practical and immediate help available – help with understanding benefits entitlements or seeking a grant to deal with an unexpected and adverse event. Charities like Turn2us can provide practical and simple help in understanding what financial support is available to those who are struggling. Anyone who is worried about their situation can find us at http://www.turn2us.org.uk/."

Citizens Advice

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice, said: "People on the lowest income and those without savings benefit least from this Budget.

"The country’s improving financial situation is welcome but it is important to remember it comes against a backdrop of years of rising bills and stagnant wages.  

"Positive moves on the personal allowance and fuel duty provide some small gains for stretched households, but there was nothing to address challenges around childcare, energy bills and private rents. "

Gingerbread

Fiona Weir, Chief Executive of Gingerbread, said: "The UK’s two million single parents are doing a brilliant job, but paying the bills and juggling work and family life on your own can be a real challenge. Single parents have been disproportionately hit by benefit cuts, losing more money than other households. They also face rising levels of in work poverty - one in five single parents working full time cannot lift their family above the poverty line. (1) (2)

“Increasing the personal tax allowance will be of little help to those struggling on the lowest incomes. For people already earning too little to pay tax it makes no difference, while those on universal credit will see any increase in take home pay offset through reductions to their benefits – losing 65p for every extra pound they get in take home pay.(3)  (4)

“To really help some of the lowest paid, the government should increase the amount people are allowed to earn before universal credit is withdrawn and slow down the rate at which it is reduced as people’s earnings increase. Gingerbread’s research has found this is particularly important for those struggling with high childcare costs.

“This would help ensure a clear gain for every extra hour worked - and make sure that work does actually pay.”

Independent Age

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of older people’s charity, Independent Age, said:

"While on the face of it parts of this Budget could look like an attempt to win the ‘grey’ vote with changes announced on pensions reform and savings tax, in reality it has failed to address key challenges facing many older people and their families today. The Chancellor didn’t say anything about the hundreds of thousands of older people who struggle to wash, dress and cook for themselves who are missing out on vital care and support as council budgets have been cut. And he didn’t tell us how he would plug the estimated £4.3 billion care funding gap expected by 2020. 

"We welcome the Chancellor’s plans to make changes to savings tax. With interest rates at a record low many of the poorest pensioners have had little return on their hard earned savings. However 28% of older people have less than £5,000 in savings anyway, so how much will they really benefit? And the Chancellor said pensioner poverty is at the lowest level ever, but it can’t be right that 1.6 million elderly people still do live in poverty. What help has been announced for the very poorest and frail pensioners in our society?” 

Read the HM Treasury information on the Budget 18 March 2015 (link opens in a new window)

Sources:

Also in the news

Ageing

Benefits cap

Children's mental health

Northern Ireland

Date of publication; 19 March 2015

3/18/2015 11:07:11 AM

Pre-election Budget to be announced

Parliament UK website (link opens in a new window)


The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, will deliver his Budget statement to the House of Commons today, Wednesday 18 March 2015.

The Budget is expected to commence at 12.30pm on Wednesday, following Prime Minister’s Questions.

Pre-election budget 2015

The Budget statement will include:

  • a review of how the UK economy is performing
  • forecasts of how the UK economy will perform in the future
  • details of any changes to taxation.

Source: Parliament UK (link opens in a new window)

Also in the news

Benefit cap

Date of publication: 18 March 2015

3/17/2015 2:28:44 PM

Attend our free half-day intermediary workshops in Nottingham and Manchester

Turn2us intermediaries workshops information


 

Are you working with people in financial need in the Nottingham or Manchester areas? 

Would you like to know how you can use Turn2us tools and resources to help your clients?

Turn2us is running free half-day intermediary workshops in Nottingham on 24 March and Manchester on 25 March

To book a place or for more information, contact: Michelle Brookes, Turn2us Training Co-ordinator, at email: training@turn2us.org.uk.

Find out more about Turn2us regional workshops

Also in the news

Benefits

Disability

National Minimum Wage

Northern Ireland

Scotland

Social care

Date of publication: 17 March 2015

3/16/2015 9:26:05 AM

Personal Independence Payment to extended to existing Disability Living Allowance claimants in 10 more areas

Turn2us Personal Independence Payment information


 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is to be extended to existing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants in 10 further areas from 27 March 2015.

Which postcode areas are affected?

These areas are postcode areas:

  • BL (Bolton)
  • CW (Crewe)
  • FK (Falkirk)
  • FY (Fylde)
  • HU (Hull)
  • OL (Oldham)
  • SK (Stockport)
  • TN (Taunton)
  • TQ (Torquay)
  • TR (Truro). 

Who will be invited to claim Personal Independence Payment instead of Disability Living Allowance

In these areas, the following people will be invited to claim PIP instead of DLA.

  • Claimants with fixed period DLA awards ending on or after 17 August 2015 (reassessment starts around 20 weeks before existing DLA awards end)
  • Young people turning 16
  • DLA claimants who report a change in their health condition or disability
  • Existing DLA claimants aged 16-64 who wish to make a PIP claim.

Sources: Rightsnet news: DWP confirms further details of Personal Independence Payment roll-out (link opens in a new window) and Gov.uk: Department for Work and Pensions: Updated timetable for PIP replacing DLA (link opens in a new window)

Read the Turn2us Personal Independence Payment information

Also in the news

Bedroom tax

Food and poverty

Work Capability Assessment (WCA)

Wales

Date of publication: 16 March 2015 

3/13/2015 9:40:18 AM

Changes to the Access to Work scheme announced

Turn2us Illness, Injury and Disability information


 

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced changes to the Access to Work scheme, which gives practical support to people who have disabilities or a health condition (mental or physical) to help them start working, stay in work or move into self employment/start a business.

These include changes to the way the scheme is delivered, offering personal budgets, a cap on the level of awards and exploring ways to improve services to people who:

  • Have mental health conditions
  • Are deaf and use British Sign Language
  • Use Access to Work to pay for taxis to get to work
  • Want to start their own businesses.

Changes to the Access to Work scheme

Personal budgets

In 2015/16 the DWP will start a process of offering personal budgets for those with on-going Access to Work awards for travel or support. The aim is to give users more freedom over how they use their grant

Cap on Access to Work awards

Individual support will be limited to one and a half times the national average salary (equivalent to £40,800 at current rates). This will be uprated every year in line with the level of average salaries.

However, anybody with an Access to Work award higher than this level as of October 2015 will not be subject to the cap until April 2018. This is to help them and employers adjust to their new level of support. 

Specialists will work in partnership with these individuals and employers, for example advising on reasonable adjustments and greater use of technology.

Deaf people using British Sign Language

Around 80% of the highest value awards for Access to Work pay for British Sign Language (BSL) services. The DWP is working closely with deaf users to review BSL interpretation provision and develop a structure for translation services that will guarantee quality standards and set transparent rates from Summer 2015.

Taxis

Over 30 per cent of Access to Work spending is on taxis for customers with mobility problems.

The DWP will look to pilot contracted services for customers across the UK's largest towns and cities from early in 2015/2016.

Expert advice and support to people with disabilities that want to run their own businesses

The DWP has recently established a specialist team to provide expert advice and support to disabled people who want to run their own successful businesses and, from October 2015, eligibility will be based around the universal credit rules so as to allow a reasonable period for businesses to establish themselves, whilst ensuring that taxpayers money goes to support legitimate and viable businesses.

Mental health

The DWP is exploring how referrals to the Access to Work’s Mental Health Support Service could be more straightforward and has also highlighted the mental health support provided by Access to Work by changing the pre-employment eligibility letter to reassure employers of the help available.

Comment from Disability Rights UK's Chief Executive

Liz Sayce, Disability Rights UK's Chief Executive said: "The change to personal budgets is a very welcome step. It will mean increased flexibility and less bureaucracy for disabled people, allowing them to concentrate on their jobs instead of filling out endless forms.

"Disabled people are more likely to be self-employed than non-disabled people, so additional help for people who work for themselves is also welcome.

"But why a sting in the tail in the form of a cap on awards? Even now, with no cap, the scheme makes the Government money. For every £1 spent on Access to Work, £1.48 comes back to the Exchequer in tax, national insurance or savings to the benefits bill. This short sighted change will mean that employers may avoid recruiting the best people for the job, and that's a waste of talent, resources and energy."

Sources:

Turn2us resources for people with disabilities and their families

If you are struggling to make ends meet, help may be available to you through benefits and grants, depending on your needs, circumstances and background.

Turn2us Benefits Calculator and Grants Search

Use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

Turn2us information pages

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help. There is also an Illness, Injury and Disability information section and a Turn2us Carers information section.

Also in the news

Young people and disability

Date of publication: 13 March 2015

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