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Hinterland - 25 February 2019

In Hinterland this week - This week – I feel (reading the news) the Brexit endgame is upon us – stories here about food tariffs and countryside stewardship, more widely, adult social care, social prescribing, gypsies (with some thoughts about affordable housing), and the role of paganism in defining Newark as a rural town….. Read on...

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UK food imports from EU face '£9bn tariff bill' under no-deal Brexit

As the end of March looms this is food for thought!! The article tells us:

The government is expected next week to spell out its plan to mitigate a potential £9bn food-price shock from a no-deal Brexit, as analysts predict the cost of staples such as beef, cheddar cheese and tomatoes could soar.

With just over a month until the Brexit deadline, the Department for International Trade is expected on Monday to publish a list of new import taxes, or tariffs, that will apply to 5,200 products, including food and clothing, should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal.

The relationship with the EU is key to the price of food because nearly one third of the food eaten in the UK comes from the bloc. At this time of year the situation is more acute because, with UK produce out of season, 90% of lettuces, 80% of tomatoes and 70% of soft fruit is sourced from, or via, the EU.

 “Food and drink tariff rates will be higher than those in any other supply chain,” says Richard Lim, chief executive of consultancy firm Retail Economics. “All stages within the food supply chain will experience increased costs, with retailers hit disproportionately as processed goods attract higher duties than raw materials and semi-processed goods.”

In 2017 the UK bought about £34bn of groceries from the EU, which arrived on supermarket shelves and at factory gates without being hit by customs duties or other trade costs. But if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, both will fall back on the World Trade Organisation’s “most favoured nation” tariffs, which means they must pay import duties on each other’s trade.

On that basis the UK’s 2017 EU food imports would come with a hefty £9.3bn tariff bill on top, according to Retail Economics’s analysis.


Agency tried to charge care homes £2,700 a shift for workers

Can this be true? And if it is what does it tell us about our broken system of adult social care?

One of the country’s biggest providers of agency health workers has been accused of “profiteering” after trying to charge care homes up to £2,700 to supply a staff member for a single shift.

The Guardian can reveal that Newcross Healthcare, already exposed for fining workers £50 when they call in sick, quoted the sky-high charges in a price list sent out to homes looking for cover over Christmas.

Newcross – which supplies thousands of agency health workers to care homes, many of whose residents have their fees paid by local councils – stated that it would be charging triple its normal Sunday day rates to supply staff on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

According to a price list seen by the Guardian, the firm normally charges £76.84 an hour to supply a head of care, also known as a matron, for a Sunday day shift. At triple rates of £230.52 an hour, this would cost a care home £2,766 for a 12-hour shift.

The company also charges £59.12 an hour to supply a nurse for a Sunday day shift. At a triple rate of £177.36 an hour, it would mean a 12-hour shift for a nurse would cost a care home £2,128.

A normal Sunday rate for a senior carer is £30.12, the document states.


Gardening can do what medicine only 'tries to mimic' for mental health, Monty Don says

As a fan of social prescribing I have to agree with Monty Don. I think the therapeutic impact of rural England has a lot to offer to our health and well-being.

Gardening can do what medicine "tries to mimic" for mental heath, Monty Don has said as he spoke about his own struggles with depression.

The presenter and horticulturist has said that gardening is only just being explored as a treatment for mental health issues.

He said in his column for Gardeners' World magazine:  "That first snowdrop, the flowering of the rose you pruned, a lettuce you grew from seed, the robin singing just for you. These are small things but all positive, all healing in a way that medicine tries to mimic."

Mr Don has spoken frequently and publicly about his depression, and cited the natural world - and his dog - as great helps.

However, he has now spoken of his excitement for the future of research into gardening as treatment.

He added: "We know that gardening is good for you. It is fantastic, all-round exercise. That is easy to see and evaluate. It inculcates high levels of well-being. That is undeniable and needs little measurement. We know that it is extremely effective in alleviating and preventing mental illness. But, and this is quite a big ‘but’, almost all the evidence of gardening being an effective treatment or preventative of mental illness is empirical.

"We know too little about how it does this, why it does it and how much it does it.

"However, the exciting news is that serious money and serious people are now taking this empirical evidence very seriously indeed and it’s being researched in the way pharmaceutical or other conventional treatments are researched. This will cost many millions of pounds and take many years.


Church of England should make land available for gypsies and travellers, General Synod votes

I think this is a fascinating story. Id like to see the CoE being a lot more imaginative alongside this about the role its land holdings could play in addressing the challenges of sites for rural affordable housing.

The Church of England should make land available for gypsies and travellers, the General Synod has voted, despite concerns that they bring “a lot of upset and fear”.

Members overwhelmingly supported a motion calling on the Church to donate land from its notoriously large portfolio to the traveller community, just five months after Government ministers revealed they were considering making trespass a criminal offence to stop them moving onto private land.


Future payment fears slow Countryside Stewardship uptake

More evidence of unhelpful policy blight….

Many farmers and landowners are reluctant to commit to Countryside Stewardship (CS) this year because they fear it may restrict their access to rewards for the public good that future support will prioritise.

Stewardship opened for 2019 applications this week, while the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (Elms) will not open to all until 2025.

Savills’ estate and farming team advises on the management of more than 400,000ha of UK farmland. Research among the team suggests that CS uptake may be held back by uncertainty over the future environmental payments landscape.

Two-thirds of the firm’s farm and land advisers staff judged that clients who were currently not in schemes were waiting to see what the new Elms involves rather than applying to CS now.

The remaining third said clients were minded to apply to current schemes in order to offset the loss of direct payments from 2021 onwards.

Farms and estates already in environmental stewardship schemes were minded to take advantage of opportunities to renew or extend their agreements, said more than four in five advisers.


And Finally

Pagans give stamp of approval to Royal Mail's celebration of one of their god

This story is most interesting for what it reveals about Newark as a signature rural service centre – read on….!!!

There cannot be that many things in national life to celebrate for those who still worship the Norse gods.

Pagan druids and their followers might gather at Stonehenge every solstice, but there is no special national holiday to celebrate either Odin and those who live with him in Asgard, the home of the gods.

But now, after years of being ignored, the Odinists and those who still look to Norse mythology for inspiration and guidance, have finally got something to smile about.

The Royal Mail is to issue a ‘pagan’ stamp next month, depicting the Norse god Thor, the hammer wielding god of thunder and protector of mankind.

Admittedly it forms part of a set of stamps commemorating Marvel Comics superheroes - of whom Thor is one, enjoying his own comic series and film spin offs - rather than the original figure of Germanic mythology.

But the Odinist Fellowship are pretty pleased all the same.

They are a registered charity that exists to "promote the original old religion of the English people and the native faith of the northern lands", so they naturally welcome any celebration of Norse mythology.

The Odinists - who worship at a Grade II listed former almshouse in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, dating back to the Tudor period - are so pleased they aren’t even complaining that the Thor shown in the stamps is the one created by an American comic publisher rather than the traditional depiction of him.


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


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