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‘Humiliated, isolated’: Over 1.25mn destitute in 21st century Britain

© Andrew Winning

In a climate of unyielding austerity, more than a million people across the UK are so impoverished they don’t have enough food, clothes, heating, shelter and toiletries, Britain’s first study into destitution has revealed.

The report, which was commissioned by UK charity the Joseph Rowntree Trust (JRT), used a new method to measure the scale of extreme poverty in Britain.

At present, there are no official government estimates of the level of destitution across the UK. But amid growing concern that extreme poverty is on the rise, the JRF commissioned a special report to investigate the matter.

The study was conducted by academics at Herriot-Watt University, a range of other experts and a number of key UK service providers. It took two years to complete, and was published on Wednesday.

It found that a startling 1.25 million people were destitute during 2015, 312,000 of whom were children. Some 80 percent of these were born in Britain.

While young, single citizens – especially men – were found to be more likely to suffer from extreme poverty, considerable numbers of families were also found to have suffered destitution.

Most severe form of poverty

Destitution is defined as the “most severe form of poverty in the UK,” which leaves people in such financial jeopardy they are unable to afford vital essentials such as food, toiletries and heating.

In order to discern whether an impoverished person can be defined as destitute, the report’s authors said they must lack two or more essentials deemed vital for basic living over a four-week period.

People who fell into this category included: those who had been forced to sleep rough; had no meal or just one per day over a period of 48 hours or longer; were unable to heat or light their home adequately for five or more days, and lacked weather-proof clothes or had to go without basic toiletries.

No central cause for destitution was uncovered. However, the majority who fell into this category had been impoverished for some time and had arrived at a tipping point that plunged them deeper into financial woe. Key drivers in this respect were spiraling financial costs of ill health, soaring rental and property prices, joblessness, and financial shocks such a delays or sanctions to benefit payments.

Areas rife with destitution

High rates of destitution were uncovered in ex-industrial areas across the northwest and northeast of England, Scotland, South Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as in inner-city London.
Unemployment was rife in these regions, while rates of long-term sickness and disability were also found to be above average.

In-depth interviews with 80 destitute citizens revealed that 30 percent had had their benefits sanctioned. Over 50 percent of this group made a direct link between being stripped of welfare payments and failing to meet the cost of basic living essentials.

Director of the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Environment and Real Estate (I-SPHERE) at Heriot-Watt University, Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, who was a key author of the report, said destitution severely impacts peoples’ physical and mental health.

“The people we spoke to told us they felt humiliated that they couldn’t afford basic essentials without help. Many said that this affected their relationships and left them socially isolated,” she said.

“This report has shown that destitution is intrinsically linked to long-term poverty, with many people forced into destitution by high costs, unaffordable bills or a financial shock such as a benefit sanction or delay. More co-ordinated debt-collection practices, particularly from DWP, local councils and utility companies, could help to avoid small debts tipping people in to destitution.”

Chief Executive of the JRT Julia Unwin said the number of people living in destitution across the UK is shocking.

“It is simply unacceptable to see such levels of severe poverty in our country in the 21st Century,” she said.

“Governments of all stripes have failed to protect people at the bottom of the income scale from the effects of severe poverty, leaving many unable to feed, clothe or house themselves and their families.”

Unwin said that tackling many of the root causes of destitution would be difficult.

“Many people affected are living on a very low income before they are no longer able to make their incomes stretch, or a financial shock like a benefit delay or family breakdown pushes them over the edge into destitution. We have to tackle these root causes,” she said.

“Government, businesses and communities need to work together to provide better emergency support, make basic essentials more affordable and create better jobs if we are to end destitution in the UK.”

Calls for reform

The report’s authors identified those who were destitute by surveying people who relied on charitable crisis services such as foodbanks, debt advice groups, homelessness groups, and key services for migrants. Samples were taken from nine areas across the UK over a seven-day period in 2015.

This did not factor in those who only received help from councils or state programs, or those who found themselves in deep financial crisis, but did not seek assistance. As a result, the report estimates the true number of people living in destitution in Britain is likely “significantly higher” that 1.25 million.

JRF is calling on Britain’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) to start officially monitoring the number of destitute people across the nation. The group argues government policy, the UK’s business sector, and local communities must work in unison to offer better support to people in the throes of acute financial crisis.

In particular, it is calling for the government to address Britain’s housing problem and the biggest rise of precarious, low-paying work seen since 2010.

Source RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone is mocking this unfortunate ad for ‘Young Banker of the Year’ (IMAGES)

Everyone is mocking this unfortunate ad for ‘Young Banker of the Year’ (IMAGES)

An unfortunately ill-considered advert for the City of London’s ‘Young Banker of the Year’ award has accidentally managed to sum up everything wrong with the heart of our financial services industry – and social media users are all over it.

The Chartered Banker advert has been plastered all over the London tube network, and features a giant banker sort of…squatting over the capital.

It didn’t take long for commuters to notice the underlying message in the advert, so they decided to gatecrash the #cbriseabovetherest hashtag (intended to praise and promote the event) and share their thoughts on the ad instead.

Let’s face it, the design team accidentally summed up the reality behind the myth of the trickle down effect. Something is trickling down alright, but it doesn’t smell like wealth.

Four decades of neoliberal economic policy removed the redistributive measures that spread the benefits of wealth, and the vast majority of income gains since have been confined to the already wealthy. In short, the rich are getting richer at an astonishing rate, and the poor are not.

Here’s what has happened in the United States since 1979:

incomegains
This graph by the US Congressional Budget Office sums up the findings of a June 2010 report. Between 1979 and 2007 the net income of the richest 1% of Americans rose by 281%, whilst that of the poorest fifth rose by 16%.

The same has happened here in Britain.

Danny Dorling, professor of human geography at Sheffield University, tracked the share of national income going to the richest 1% from the end of the first world war in 1918, to 2012. He made the unsurprising discovery that after falling for more than a century before the Thatcher government, their share then began rising – and has done so ever since. Things are now just as unequal as they were in 1918.

_57919089_share_income464x332

 

The evidence is plain for all to see. The current economic and political system is making our country, and our world, a more unequal place. It is making it harder, not easier, for people to make the very most of themselves. For several generations, parents were able to say to their children: ‘your lot have it so much better than we did.’ But that simply is not true today. Young adults completing their GCSEs today have got it harder than any generation in decades – and the spectre of a young banker taking a dump on their dreams could not sum it up better.

source: The Canary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many homeless in England have no right to real help from state – study

© Dylan Martinez

Many homeless people in England are not entitled to vital help under UK law even if they are sleeping on the streets, a damning report shows.

A coalition of social justice campaigners and lawyers fighting homelessness in Britain is calling for councils across England to intervene sooner to prevent people from ending up on the street.

They made the demand in a review of homelessness legislation, published on Monday. The report, which was written by representatives from Crisis, Shelter, councils across England, and the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation, demands prompt legal reforms.

The study argues local authorities could and should intervene in crisis situations, and rehouse citizens deemed to be in jeopardy of losing their home.

Figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government in February 2016 revealed that the number of England’s rough sleepers soared by 30 percent with a 12-month period. In a climate of rising inequality and accusations of social cleansing, ministers are considering a policy change. Critics say it should have been implemented long ago.

As it currently stands, adults without children who are judged to be healthy, single and not particularly vulnerable are not categorized as high-priority cases by local authorities. As a result, the most councils can do is give them advice if they are threatened with homelessness.

In many instances, campaigners warn these individuals are just handed leaflets and abandoned by the authorities.

The review of homelessness legislation, published Monday, argues English law should be amended to take on dimensions of the Welsh system.

The study says local authorities should have a more robust duty to stop people from becoming homeless. It also suggests councils should have to act within 56 days of someone facing homelessness, and should be compelled to find accommodation for those who have local connections.

While these proposals differ slightly to policies currently seen in Wales, campaigners say they could be helpful in tackling England’s homelessness crisis.

Since December 2012, councils in Scotland have been legally obliged to secure settled accommodation for all eligible applicants that find themselves unintentionally homeless.
Britain’s Local Government Association (LGA) said it is vital that the government honor its commitment to replace high-value homes sold on to fund Westminster’s extended Right to Buy scheme.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said that ministers had promised £139 million to homelessness programs and a further £100 million for housing in the budget.

“This report makes interesting reading and we will continue work with homelessness organizations and across government to explore options,” the spokesman told the BBC, adding that legislation “to prevent more people from facing a homelessness”would be factored in.

 Source RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Things That Prove Fucking Hipsters Have Taken Over Scotland

curated by Hilary Mitchell

The Bearded Ones have finally made it north of the border.

1. This “upcycled” cigarette machine aquarium in a Glasgow bar.

This "upcycled" cigarette machine aquarium in a Glasgow bar.

“Does it matter that we can’t really see the fish?” “No.”

2. An Aberdeen restaurant that serves food in a bin lid.

An Aberdeen restaurant that serves food in a bin lid.

Clatty bastards.

3. And a Glasgow pub that serves its chicken wings in a pissing treasure chest.

And a Glasgow pub that serves its chicken wings in a pissing treasure chest.

“Are we a pirate-themed bar?” “No.” “Then why do…” “You’re fired.”

4. Everything about this photo of a cocktail bar in Edinburgh, but particularly the hairdryer light.

5. This fucking wine glass filled with sausage and mash.

This fucking wine glass filled with sausage and mash.

6. And this “mugotto”.

“Our special today is risotto in a mug.” “Why is it special?” “It’s in a mug.” (Pic: @AFraserAllen)

— We Want Plates (@WeWantPlates)

7. This twee eatery in Dollar, which has forgotten how to table.

This twee eatery in Dollar, which has forgotten how to table.

“Does it matter that people can’t fit their legs underneath it?” “No.”

More proof at Buzzfeed

Meet the Tory council that’s started fining people £50 for being poor

Worthing Council has just pushed through controversial new rules that allow it to impose £50 fines on people who sleep rough or beg for money. The move effectively criminalises homelessness in Worthing – and then allows the council to profit from it.

Conservative-led Worthing Council has voted to ban rough sleeping (“overnight camping”) and begging, and to issue people who break the ban with a £50 fixed penalty notice, or a court fine of up to £1,000 and a criminal conviction if they don’t pay.

Worthing is the latest in a series of councils to criminalise homeless people using new ‘Public Space Protection Orders’ (PSPOs), which were introduced by the coalition government in 2014 and allow councils to criminalise otherwise legal activities in specific local areas. VICE describes PSPOs as “ASBOs for your neighbourhood” and documents some of the more outlandish ways councils have been enjoying their new powers:

It is now a criminal offence to shout or swear in an area of Bassetlaw. Congregating in groups of two or more is banned in one estate in Guildford. It is illegal to “cause annoyance” in part of Lancaster. Possession of golf equipment is outlawed in an area of North East Derbyshire. Other activities which have been banned, or will be in the near future, include ball games, busking, feeding birds and playing music loudly.

But it is the increasing use of PSPOs to criminalise homeless people – which at least 36 councils are trying to do – that is the most disturbing.

Worthing Council waved through the new rules in the face of overwhelming local opposition. 14,000 people have signed a petition calling on the council to “say no to PSPO” and protests were held outside its town hall. Dan Thompson, the spokesman for the Worthing People’s Assembly, which has been instrumental in the campaign against the PSPOs, told The Canary:

The impacts will be huge. PSPO 2 mentions begging in terms of having a receptacle for begging, which will victimise homeless people trying to get by day to day… PSPO 3 discusses overnight camping and finding shelter overnight which will affect homeless people trying to find somewhere to stay… PSPO 1 looks at street drinking, but there is no discussion of treating people with addictions. Many people living on the street suffer from addiction as a product of being homeless. As one councillor pointed out, the PSPOs are all about punishment and don’t mention support or help.

The council denies it is targeting any “groups of individuals”:

The council were clear that the PSPOs were proposed as part of a wider programme to tackle anti-social behaviour, which balances prevention and early help with enforcement. Enforcement is only carried out where necessary and is focused on behaviour and not groups of individuals.

But Liberty, which has opposed PSPOs since their introduction, argues that Worthing’s measures will inevitably hit homeless people particularly hard:

As well as banning begging, the council has made it a criminal offence to spend the night in a vehicle or temporary structure intended to provide shelter or accommodation – which will obviously disproportionately impact the homeless.

Conservative government policies – from the failure to provide affordable housing to welfare cuts and sanctions – have seen homeless figures skyrocket by 55% between 2010 and 2014. In the past year alone, the number of people sleeping rough in England has risen by nearly a third. Meanwhile, cuts to councils have led them to drastically cut support for homeless people.

Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, told The Canary:

It’s deeply disappointing that Worthing has used these dangerous powers to criminalise some of its most vulnerable people. Begging and rough sleeping are not antisocial behaviour – they’re the result of poverty.

PSPOs are blunt instruments which don’t help those in need – they simply fast-track them into the criminal justice system. We hope the council will follow the example of other authorities around the country and scrap this misguided and counterproductive Order.

People are being pushed onto the streets – and then being criminalised for it.

As my colleagues Emily Apple and Kerry-anne Mendoza have previously reported, PSPOs are part of a wider trend towards criminalising homelessness under the Conservatives, with devastating impacts for homeless people and those helping them:

  • The introduction of ‘anti-squatting’ laws led to homeless man Daniel Gauntlett freezing to death on the porch of an empty bungalow in Kent in February 2013.
  • A furious judge railed against the increasing number of homeless people being criminalised in Brighton after Ashley Hacket was arrested for begging just 10 pence.
  • Sussex Police have been using plainclothes officers to target people begging and gaol one homeless person every week.
  • In 2014, a disabled man was threatened with arrest for trying to give soup and sandwiches to homeless people in Brighton, and police tried to dismantle a soup kitchen in London.

Criminalising poverty will only entrench it, or move the problem to somebody else’s backyard. Instead of a £1,000 fine and a criminal record, people in extreme poverty need support. As The Worthing People’s Assembly told The Canary:

full article at  The Canary and much more about the country we live in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brits blindly walking into Orwellian surveillance state, survey suggests

A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite a London Underground Station in central London © Toby Melville

Britain is sleep-walking into an Orwellian surveillance state, with most of its citizens unaware of or disinterested in the far-reaching implications of the government’s Investigatory Powers (IP) Bill, a new survey suggests.

A poll conducted by broadband comparison site Broadband Genie reveals the widespread confusion many Brits are experiencing with respect to the soon-to-be-implemented legislation.

Known to its opponents as the “snoopers’ charter,” the bill will give UK law enforcement bodies unprecedented access to citizens’ online activities.

It will allow them to force broadband providers such as BT and Virgin to store people’s internet browsing history and hand over this data to the state in the absence of judicial oversight.

© broadbandgenie.co.uk

Intelligence agencies and government bodies such as the National Crime Agency (NCA) will also be allowed to hack citizens’ internet networks, personal computers and other devices.

While the government says the legislation is vital to combating organized crime and terrorism, privacy rights advocates say it goes too far. They argue unlimited access to citizens’ private communications and devices should be a real concern for British people.

© broadbandgenie.co.uk

Of 1,600 respondents surveyed by Broadband Genie, 75 percent said they had not heard of the IP Bill. Asked if they backed the government’s plans to ramp up mass surveillance in Britain, a third said they didn’t care either way.

Fifty percent of those surveyed said law enforcement agencies should not have access to citizens’ encrypted communications and devices.

Privacy International (PI), which specializes in the field of mass surveillance and privacy rights, says the IP Bill will give police deeply intrusive snooping powers, allowing for the installation of malware on citizens’ computers.

Such a move would empower UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies to spy on citizens by activating their microphones and webcams. PI also warns the draft legislation would allow UK authorities to remotely gain access to files on citizens’ computers and erode data security on their personal devices, without them knowing.

It currently remains unclear who will pay for the implementation and maintenance of the infrastructure needed to accompany these legislative changes. Experts suggest the cost could spiral into billions of pounds.

PI also warns UK citizens’ internet browsing history will be obtainable by police in the absence of a warrant, and the cost of turning Britain into an Orwellian surveillance state is currently unknown.

“A recent estimate was £1.2 billion [about US$1.7 billion], or more than seven times the highest Home Office estimate. This cost could be passed to you and would mean higher broadband and mobile phone bills. You will be paying for the police to spy on you,” the group said.

“With this money they could employ 3,000 more full-time police officers for a decade – at a time of spending cuts across police forces. Mass surveillance of the population does not make us safer, but police officers on the streets do.

“Our police already have very powerful investigation and surveillance capabilities. They do not need such intrusive powers that will impact on everyone’s right to privacy.
“We are calling on internet service providers to publicly oppose the bill in its current form.”

SOURCE: RT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Scientists May Soon Be Unable To Speak Freely About Their Research

photo credit: As Canada moves forwards, the U.K. takes a step back. lakov Kalinin/Shutterstock

Science is, by its very nature, objective. It uses data, backed up by demonstrable, empirical evidence, to try and explain as much of life, the universe, and everything as possible. The facts are often willfully distorted by politicians, though, particularly when it comes to man-made climate change and, on occasion, vaccines.

Sometimes, however, the facts are completely suppressed by political agencies. This was most recently and publically demonstrated in Canada under the Harper administration, when researchers funded by the state were banned from talking freely to the media. Even when they could speak out, their responses were highly moderated and censored by the government. Now, a similar thing may be about to happen in the U.K.

As reported by the Guardian, many British scientists will soon be legally blocked from speaking out on key issues affecting the nation, from genetic modification and stem cell research to dietary dangers and, yes, climate change. In a depressing state of affairs, the British government is about to adopt the very same Canadian-style gagging system just as the newly-installed Trudeau government there has repealed it.

“This is extremely worrying,” William Sutherland, a professor of zoology at the University of Cambridge, told the Guardian. “If they go ahead with this new anti-lobbying clause, then we will have many more poor decisions being made by government for the simple reason that it will have starved itself of proper scientific advice.”

Fracking researchers, if government-funded, may not be allowed to effectively speak out on any negative effects they may uncover. Calin Tatu/Shutterstock

As of May, researchers that received grants from the government – which covers a broad range of topics, and a vast number of academic institutions – will not be allowed to use the results of their research to lobby politicians for change. The aim of the edict, proposed by the Cabinet Office, is to stop non-governmental organizations trying to affect legislative change. Senior scientists and research groups see this, quite rightly, as a straightforward assault on academic freedom.

The now-scrapped Canadian system was primarily aimed at federally funded scientists working in fossil fuel extraction industries. It’s clear that not only are fossil fuels dooming the planet through dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, but their extraction is contributing tonnes of toxins to worsening air pollution. Fracking, a relatively new form of natural gas extraction, is proving particularly controversial.

Of course, stopping scientists talking about the negative effects of these industries will exacerbate climate change, while improving the short-term economic prospects of those industries. At the time, the Canadian government was keen to ignore the former and focus on the latter. With fracking on the increase in the U.K. thanks to its government support, this new gagging order will no doubt have the same effect.

Although the Cabinet Office said that it might consider waivers for certain researchers, allowing them to speak out on certain issues, nothing has come of it so far. Fiona Fox, head of the Science Media Centre, said that if passed, this clause will “be a victory for ignorance and a blow for the evidence-based policy that our politicians claim to want.”

Science is, at heart, a search for truth – it cannot, by nature, be gagged and still operate properly. If you are worried by this, get in touch with the government or sign this petition.

Source: IFLScience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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