Increase in homelessness in Redbridge in 2018

Map courtesy of Shelter

There are more than 7,000 homeless people in Redbridge, according to the latest research by the charity Shelter.

The figures revealed there are 7,049 people living in temporary accommodation in the Borough while 65 are considered as sleeping rough.

Information released by the charity in November 2017 found there were 6,257 homeless people in Redbridge meaning an increase of 857 during 2018.

Redbridge is number 11 in a ranking of recorded homelessness by local authority in England with Tower Hamlets at number 10 and Brent at number 9. Newham has the highest number of homeless people with 14,535 in temporary accommodation and 76 sleeping rough.

There are almost 170,000 homeless people across London with 1 in 52 without a home. In total there are 320,000 homeless people across Britain.

“It is unforgivable that 320,000 people in Britain have been swept up by the housing crisis and now have no place to call home. These new figures show that homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the country”, said Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter.

“Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room. We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.”

(If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough Streetlink enables members of the public to connect people on the streets with local services that can support them.)

Local Authorities to be notified of rates of stability for children in care

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The Children’s Commissioner for England has published a report tracking the experience of children in care.

The Stability Index gathered data from local authorities in England to assess how frequently children in care were changing home, school or social worker over the course of a year.

The report found that most children in care experienced some kind of instability in one form or another throughout the course of a year with almost 2,400 children (6% of children in care attending school) changing home, school or social worker in 2016/17.

The Index revealed that some children experienced several types of instability within the same year while some also experienced repeated instability over two years.

Over 3,000 children (6% of those in care in both 2015/16 and 2016/17) experienced four or more placement moves over two years including 1,300 (3% of those in care in both 2015/16 and 2016/17) who experienced multiple placement moves in both years.

Among children in care who were enrolled at school, around 1,600 (4%) experienced a school move two years in a row.

“Every day I hear from ‘pinball kids’ who are being pinged around the care system when all they really want is to be settled and to get on with normal life,” commented Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England.

“These children need stability, yet far too many are living unstable lives, in particular children entering care in their early teens. This puts them at greater risk of falling through the gaps in the education system and opens them up to exploitation by gangs or to abuse.”

“I want all local authorities to make reducing instability a priority and to measure it. I would also like to see Ofsted assessing the stability of children in care as part of their inspections and for the Department for Education to start asking for data on this in their annual returns from Local Authorities.”

Following publication of the report, the Children’s Commissioner will be writing to every Director of Children’s Services and every Lead Member for Children’s Services to notify them of their local area’s rates of stability. She will also ask them to adopt the Stability Index as a tool for identifying areas of concern and for measuring progress and improvement.

Would you volunteer to pay more Council Tax?

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According to The Times newspaper, more than 800 households in Westminster have volunteered to pay extra Council Tax.  This follows a letter from the Leader of the Council to residents living in properties in the top band asking whether they would be willing to pay a “community contribution”.  Since the scheme began in March about 2 per cent of the 15,600 households approached have responded and the idea is expected to raise £342,000 to tackle homelessness and isolation and fund youth clubs.

Westminster includes areas such as Mayfair and Belgravia and residents already pay some of the lowest Council Tax rates in the UK; but is this a useful idea and would it work in Redbridge?

If Redbridge Council could prove that any money raised by a similar scheme was being used to tackle the most urgent social issues in the Borough, would residents be willing to volunteer to pay more Council Tax?

Redbridge improves ranking on league table of measures to secure a healthy and sustainable food future

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Redbridge has improved its ranking on a league table of measures to secure a healthy and sustainable food future.

The ranking was created by Sustain which advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals.  It is an alliance of organisations which must be wholly or partly interested in food or farming issues and includes among others the Green Alliance, the Campaign for Real Farming, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Child Poverty Action Group, Compassion in World Farming and the Fairtrade Foundation.

One of Sustain’s projects is the London Food Link which works for a healthy, sustainable and ethical food system for the capital.

They have produced an interactive map rating each London Borough on progress in certain areas including animal welfare, food culture in schools, Fairtrade Food and the Living Wage.

Some of the key 2017 results for Redbridge are:

  • Fairtrade Food – Council has yet to pass a resolution in support of Fairtrade and is not yet making significant progress towards Fairtrade status.
  • Food Culture in schools – Borough where some schools are engaged in Healthy Schools London and/or Food for Life.
  • Good Growing – Council involved in two of the above core initiatives to encourage food growing.
  • Healthier Catering – Council is participating in the Healthier Catering Commitment scheme or has developed its own healthier catering scheme for businesses.
  • Local Declaration – Council has signed the Local Government Declaration on sugar reduction and healthier food.
  • Living Wage – Council is not involved in any of the initiatives covered in the report to encourage better pay.

Relative to other boroughs, Redbridge’s score improved 42% in 2017.

The full interactive map can be viewed here.

Trussell Trust reveals increase in supplies issued by Redbridge foodbanks

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There has been a 31.5% increase in the number of three-day emergency food supplies distributed in Redbridge since April 2017, according to new figures from the Trussell Trust.

Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, 4,237 three-day emergency food supplies were handed out compared to 3,221 in the same period in 2016/17. The supplies were issued to 2,349 adults and 1,888 children.

Across London, the Trussell Trust distributed 134,244 three-day emergency food supplies in 2017/18. Adults received 86,607 and children received 47,637. This compares to a total of 111,101 three-day emergency food supplies issued in 2016/17.

The top four reasons for referral to a foodbank in the Trussell Trust network in 2017/18 were low income, benefit delays, benefit change and debt according to the most recent data.

The Trussell Trust is a poverty charity founded on Christian principles. They run a network of over 400 foodbanks giving emergency food and support to people in crisis around the UK.

“As a nation, we expect no one should be left hungry or destitute – illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job could happen to any of us and we owe it to each other to make sure sufficient financial support is in place when we need it most,” commented Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust.

“It is hard to break free from hunger if there isn’t enough money coming in to cover the rising cost of absolute essentials like food and housing. For too many people staying above the water is a daily struggle. It’s completely unaccepable that anyone is forced to turn to a foodbank as a result.

“Universal Credit is the future of our benefits system. It’s vital we get it right, and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising costs of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a foodbank – disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents”.