Hinterland - 18 March

In Hinterland this week - This week in Hinterland: special needs funding for young people and the pressure it puts on local government, a lack of electrical charging points, a groundbreaking report about the perils of ageing, unintended consequences of the badger cull, the rural carers missing out on millions and finally – a dog poo box which has “gone walkies”! Read on...

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‘Our children deserve better’: parents win right to judicial review of special needs spending

I am conflicted by this story. At the nub of my concern is not that parents shouldn’t have as much support as we can afford its just that local authorities can’t afford to provide the support and it is having a major knock on effect on already filleted services in other parts of councils. The article tells us:

In Nico’s case, East Sussex county council now covers only half of the cost of the support he needs; his school has to pay for the remainder or disrupt his education. “Rather than funding his care according to his education, health and care plan, the local authority is funding his care according to their own matrix, saying that’s the maximum funding you can get for that type of disability,” said Heugh.

She is a member of SEND Action, a national network of families committed to upholding their legal rights. “I am able to fight for my son but there are many parents who are not able to. Their children are not receiving the correct level of provision at school, or are being excluded altogether and losing their education. It’s frustrating, because children with SEND are capable of achieving so much with the right kind of support. I know my son is.”

In December the education watchdog Ofsted said education provision for children with SEND was “disjointed” and “inconsistent”, and that in 2018 more than 2,000 of the most needy pupils missed out on the support to which they were entitled – a number that has tripled since 2010.

The school leaders’ union NAHT has reported that only 2% of headteachers feel they receive sufficient funding for pupils with SEND.

Irwin Mitchell will argue that the government has been acting unlawfully since the 2014 Children and Families Act extended special education needs provision from 18 to 25 years, increasing the numbers entitled to funding. “We couldn’t find any evidence that the funding had increased,” said solicitor Anne-Marie Irwin. “Public bodies are required to act in a rational manner. It’s irrational to include in the act a whole raft of new [people] who need support, and not allocate money to fund that.”

report last December by the Local Government Association showed that demand for services for children and young people with SEND rose by 35% between 2014 and 2018, and that this academic year, 93 local authorities expect their spending on children with high needs will be underfunded to the tune of £287m. Increased post-16 responsibility was the single most commonly cited factor contributing to the growth in high needs spending by local authorities.


Councils stall on adding charging points for electric vehicles

Daniel Heerey – rural innovator has developed a community focused approach to the installation of charging points (let me know if you would like to learn more), just as well if you read this story!

At least a quarter of local authorities in England and Wales have put a brake on the expansion of charging networks for electric vehicles.

More than 100 local councils say they have no plans to increase the number of charging points they offer. Campaigners and politicians fear this could hinder the expansion of the UK’s electric fleet.

Electric vehicles are seen as key to government plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also have a role in cutting air pollution. This week Public Health England called for vastly more electric vehicles to replace petrol and diesel types, to tackle the problem of toxic air in cities.

The findings come from freedom of information requests submitted by the Liberal Democrats, and were shared with the Guardian. They follow more than a decade of efforts to upgrade the UK’s infrastructure to encourage drivers to switch to electric.


Millions in Britain at risk of poor-quality later life, report says

This report suggests if you’re poor, old and poorly in rural England its not a good mix! It tells us:

A landmark report on the state of ageing in Britain has warned that a significant proportion of people are at risk of spending later life in poverty, ill-health and hardship.

Britain is undergoing a radical demographic shift, with the number of people aged 65 and over set to grow by more than 40% in two decades, reaching more than 17 million by 2036. The number of households where the oldest person is 85 or over is increasing faster than any other age group.

But although we are living longer than ever before, the report warns that millions risk missing out on a good later life due to increasing pressure on health and care services, local authorities, the voluntary sector and government finances.

“Ageing is inevitable but how we age is not. Our current rates of chronic illness, mental health conditions, disability and frailty could be greatly reduced if we tackled the structural, economic and social drivers of poor health earlier,” said Dr Anna Dixon, the chief executive at Centre for Ageing Better.

“Our extra years of life are a gift that we should all be able to enjoy and yet - as this report shows - increasing numbers of us are at risk of missing out,” she added.

The Centre for Ageing Better’s report, The State of Ageing in 2019, warns that today’s least well-off over-50s face far greater challenges than wealthier peers and are likely to die younger, become sicker earlier and fall out of work due to ill-health.


Badger cull may actually make TB spread worse, scientists warn

It has gone quiet for some time now in terms of the badger cull controversy. This article reveals some unintended consequences arising from the death of 11,000 badgers. It tells us:

Culling badgers may help to spread TB further as it disrupts local populations and drives them into previously uninfected areas, a new study has found.

Scientists say unless strict rules are followed it may be better to carry out no culling at all rather than continuing an ineffective operation that makes things worse.

Campaigns to eliminate animals such as foxes, bats and wild boar to stop diseases spreading have been carried out on numerous occasions, with mixed results.

The badger cull conducted between 1998 and 2005 to protect British cattle from TB was one of the largest of its kind ever conducted, resulting in the death of 11,000 badgers.

While some locations saw infections drop, the trial also led to the disease spreading further into previously uninfected cattle and badger populations.


Nine in ten state carers miss out on state pension top-up

This is a real issue for rural carers and merits some real campaigning to ensure it is addressed. This story tells us:

Not working while caring for someone who is sick or infirm leaves gaps in National Insurance payments, hitting your state pension.

In 2010 the Government launched Carer’s Credit to fill the gap.

However, more than 90pc of those eligible for the credit in 2018 did not claim it, according to a Freedom of Information request by Quilter, the wealth adviser.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates around 200,000 carers are eligible for the credit, but only 17,388 claimed it last year.

Jon Greer, of Quilter, said: “Unpaid carers save the UK £132bn a year. But they sometimes don’t even see themselves as carers or the extent of the sacrifice they are making.”

To receive Carer’s Credit you must be between 16 and state pension age and look after at least one person for a minimum of 20 hours a week.


And Finally

Thief steals Devon seaside resort dog poo bin

Now this must count for the weirdest rural crime ever…

Police have been mulling the possible reasons for why someone would steal a dog poo bin from a seaside resort.

It was unscrewed from its mounting and taken at Fisherman's Cove in East Portlemouth, Devon sometime between Tuesday or Wednesday.

"Over the years I've investigated many crimes," said a police spokesman. "Some interesting, some not so. This one is up there on the [interesting] list."

Officers are looking for leads to locate the bin, "but not its contents".


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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