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Hinterland - 28 May 2019

In Hinterland this week - Ihe challenges of supporting the elderly and vulnerable young people in the context of two stories about personal care and special needs, nurses, migrants and on the lighter side potatoes and mushy peas! Read on...

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Personal care should be free for over-65s, says thinktank

I think this is a really interesting proposal. Many people who have made provision for their old age, many in rural areas, feel very challenged by the need for their modest savings to disproportionately support the cost of their care, just because they fall the wrong side of what can be seen to be an arbitrary line. This would address that challenge to a degree at least. Putting the cost of such an innovation on National Insurance however would have the unintended consequence of disincentivising small rural businesses to employ people. In this case, as with a number of others I am led to ponder why never raising income tax (which is the other option posited here) should be such a sacred cow?

Older people should receive free help to eat, wash and get dressed in a move which would improve their health but need to be funded by a 2p tax rise, a thinktank has said.

The proposal, by the left-of-centre Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), highlights the growing political consensus that personal care should become free for over-65s. If implemented, it would bring England into line with Scotland, where such care has been free since 2002.

The IPPR argues that the key principle underlying access to the NHS – free care at the point of need – should be extended to this element of social care services in England.

Doing so would remove what critics say is a deeply unfair system in which more and more people of pensionable age are having to use their savings to pay for care received at home that is vital to their independence.

The switch would cost an extra £8bn a year by 2030 but could be paid for by raising income tax by 2p or National Insurance by 1.3p, according to calculations in a new IPPR report.

The NHS would save £4.5bn a year by 2030 because older people would be in better health as a result of improved support at home and so would end up in hospital less, it says. Cuts to local council budgets since 2010 have contributed to hospitals becoming routinely full all year round.


Cuts may leave NHS short of 70,000 nurses, leaked report warns

We know rural health is the most challenged when it comes to staff shortages. This means we, more than our urban counterparts, should be celebrating the exposure of this “penny wise, pound foolish” approach. This article tells us:

The NHS could be short of almost 70,000 nurses within five years, according to a leaked copy of the government’s long-awaited plan to tackle the staffing crisis.

Blaming the government’s decision to abolish bursaries for nursing students, a draft of the NHS people plan says: “Our analysis shows a 40,000 (11%) shortfall [in the number of nurses needed in England] in 2018-19 which widens to 68,500 (16%) by 2023-24 without intervention, as demand for nurses grows faster than supply.”

That would mean that the NHS’s shortage of nurses increases from one in nine of the workforce to one in six, adding to the rising pressures on hospitals, GP surgeries and mental health care.

The report, seen by the Observer, makes clear that the shortage could be even higher than 68,500 because of “additional pressures” on GP surgeries, which are due to take on greater responsibilities for patient care over the next few years under the NHS long-term plan.

The document adds that even if its recommendations are implemented in full, the health service will still be short of 38,800 nurses by 2023-24, almost as many the current total of 40,000 vacancies. It says: “We believe we can reduce the gap between supply and demand to 38,800 (10%) in 2023-24, assuming that we are able to make progress on all of the interventions in this chapter.”


Channel migrants: Migrant crossing figure reaches new high

Kent is at the cutting edge of a raft of contemporary challenges as the liminal point between the UK and our relationship with Europe. This story is not about Brexit but another growing phenomenon challenging the UK in general and the rural coast of this county in particular. It tells us:

The number of migrants picked up trying to cross the Channel in May is now higher than the figure for December, when a "major incident" was declared.

Eight men were intercepted in a small boat at about 06:20 BST, bringing the total for May so far to 140.

In December, during mild weather, 138 migrants attempted the journey and Home Secretary Sajid Javid set out a plan for dealing with the problem.

At least 642 migrants have now crossed the Channel since 3 November.

The Home Office said: "Those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach."

It added that since January "more than 30 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe".


Potato farmers forced to trial 'expensive' new watering system to ward off drought threat to summer crop

Water is a big deal in the east of England, which we also rely on to provide the lion’s share of our food, this story exemplifies the challenge. It tells us:

Potato farmers are being forced to trial an 'expensive' new irrigation system because water levels are so low that a severe shortage of the vegetable has been predicted.

A lack of rainfall last year and so far this year means that irrigation prospects across the country are low, meaning that new measures are having to be put in place in order to ensure at least some potatoes grow.

The latest information for the Environment Agency shows the chips are down for potato growers; river flows are below normal for this time of year, with irrigation prospects declared “moderate to poor” for many areas.

Prospects for East Anglia, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire are described as “poor”, while the situation in Yorkshire and the East Midlands is “moderate”.

A dry winter and a summer drought last year put increased pressure on water supplies, and there has not since been enough rain to counteract this.

The situation for potatoes could be even graver than it was last year, when restaurants including fast-food outlet Leon were forced to replace potato products with imported sweet potatoes.

A spokesperson from ADHB potatoes said that trials of drip irrigation, a new way to enrich the soil with water, are taking place to safeguard the soil against drought.


Rise in special needs pupils forced to attend out-of-area schools

This article identifies a significant challenge around choice and fairness which impacts on a significant number of rural families. I do hope however in responding to the lobbying in relation to the issue that we don’t end up with local government being asked, without any increase in resources, to fund a way out of this problem as it is already completely broke! This story tells us:

Almost 20,000 children with special educational needs such as autism are attending school outside their council area because of shortfalls in local provision – with the number rising by nearly a fifth in two years, the Observer can reveal.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that some children are studying hundreds of miles from home as the special education needs and disability (Send) system struggles to cope with a funding crisis.

Parents of children with Send are preparing for a national day of action on May 30 in protest at the lack of funding, with more than 25 demonstrations across England and Wales and a rally in Westminster.

The Observer’s figures show that in 2018-19, 19,771 special needs children of compulsory school age attended school outside their local authority area. The true figure will be higher, as only 113 of England’s 151 councils provided data. Among the 100 councils that provided figures from 2016-17 to 2018-19, the number of out-of-area school placements rose by 18% from 15,503 to 18,229.


And Finally

Norwich Mushy Pea stall celebrates 70 years

I’m not sure if the story that Peter Mandleson once mistook mushy peas for an avocado dip is true, nonetheless this story made me chuckle. It tells us:

A stall selling mushy peas and pies is celebrating 70 years of trading by selling peas at 1949 prices of 5p.

The Mushy Pea stall has been on Norwich market since it was first set up in 1949.

Third generation owner, Anita Adcock from Hellesdon, Norwich, described her food as "wholesome" but declined to reveal what went into her mushy peas.

She said the peas were traditionally served with mint sauce and should be eaten with a pie and not chips.

She has customers in their 90s who first came to the stall when it was run by her husband's grandmother, she said


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


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