Hinterland - 31 July 2018

This week my trip to the landscape where the wicker man was filmed leads me to reflect on the traffic calming proclivities of their straw counterparts. I also lament the near passing of the heavy horse, the dumping of palm oil in UK seas and notwithstanding the recent rain the long term impacts the failure of the water companies to keep the wet stuff flowing. I also have reflections on an NHS which might innovate but doesn’t have many workers in areas serving rural communities and the crucial importance of giving young people a housing stake in rural areas.. Read on.....

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Give Britain’s young homebuyers state loans for deposits, urges report

This is a very refreshing reflection on the negative impact of the private rented sector in some of its manifestations. The issue in rural communities is as much about the supply of housing as the nature of the stock in terms of rented or purchased.  I’m all for more houses to rent or buy in rural England as its crucial for their future that we give young people a sustainable opportunity to live in them. This article tells us:

Young people struggling to buy their first home should be offered loans by the government to help them pay the deposit, according to a new report which warns that reduced home ownership and the recent surge in private renting is damaging family life.

The idea has been put forward by the Housing and Finance Institute (HFI) as one of several initiatives it believes necessary to increase the number of homeowners by one million by 2035. As with the current system of student loans, the HFI suggests the loans could be repaid as a proportion of salary once the recipient has reached a certain income threshold.

Alternatively the money could be repaid under a simple repayment arrangement, although at a low interest rate and over a long term. The loans would be written off after 40 years or at state retirement age, whichever comes first.

With six million more people now living in short-term rented housing than 15 years ago, the HFI says urgent action is needed to boost home ownership, as evidence mounts that a good and stable family home has beneficial effects on people’s health, their sense of economic stability, and children’s educational attainment.


Future-proofing the NHS: how the UK's largest workforce is gearing up

This article is a really useful “teach-in” on some of the more positive career developments in the NHS. It doesn’t change the fact however that there is a far lower proportion of NHS staff per head of population in rural than urban areas. This is when measured as “whole system networks” and therefore including the major cities, which serve rural communities such as Plymouth and Lincoln.  It tells us:

Seventy years ago the NHS launched with a workforce of around 144,000. Since then, the health service has grown to become the single biggest employer in the UK, with 1.7 million workers across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, making it the fifth-largest workforce in the world.

As the workforce demographic has changed there have also been huge advances in medicine. There has been a move towards more patient self-management in an integrated health and social care system, with more people looked after outside of hospital nearer home. At the same, time patient demand has soared, and it is anticipated that 190,000 more staff will be needed in England alone by 2027 if the current pressure on services continues apace.

All these factors are influencing the careers landscape. The challenges, according to NHS leaders, are three-fold: to attract new staff; to retain and develop those who already work for the NHS; and to create new roles where skill gaps are identified.

The government is committed to increasing nursing associates – a bridging role between healthcare assistant and registered nurse. By 2027 some 45,000 will be in post, with 17,000 expected to become registered nurses. The development, according to Health Education England (HEE) chief executive Prof Ian Cumming, has already triggered a rise in the number of people applying to become healthcare assistants because there is now a defined career path. A growth in medical associate professions is also expected – such as surgical care practitioners trained to perform some supervised surgery and advanced critical-care practitioners who look after hospital patients with life-threatening conditions. In future, more physician associates – who can carry out many of the duties typically provided by a GP – are also likely to be found across the NHS.

Most of the growth in jobs is expected to happen in the community as more people are treated outside of hospital. Technological advancements, which enable patients to self-monitor their condition at home, will also have an impact on how health careers develop: “I think the iPad will transform primary care,” says Cumming. The desire of doctors for more flexible careers will also influence how medical paths develop.


Is the Great British shire horse about to go extinct?

I was going to make this story an “And Finally…” entry and then I reflected that it is more important than that!! This story tells us:

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST), a charity dedicated to the conservation of farm animals, has warned that unless urgent action is taken, all three varieties of working horse could disappear from the British landscape within ten years.

This is despite them having been numbered in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, at the start of the 20th Century, and despite them having been a feature of British life since the Middle Ages.

The RBST has now launched a Heavy Horse Appeal fundraising campaign to ensure the survival of the Shire Horse, Suffolk Punch, and Clydesdale, and warned: “Numbers are worryingly low: just 240 Shire, 199 Clydesdale and 25 Suffolk pedigree foals were registered last year.

“Unless urgent action is taken, three breeds of the UK’s rarest horses could become extinct in the next 10 years.”

Calling the horses “working class heroes”, the charity added: “The UK’s Shire, Clydesdale and Suffolk horses have all played crucial roles in agriculture, transport and war in the UK and across the world.

“Heavy horses tirelessly worked the land, transported war supplies and even pulled carriages for the royal family.


Water company bosses asked to explain failures to tackle leaks as farmers plan 'drought summit'

I know I am treading in slightly risky waters (pardon the pun) but I cant help wondering if there’s not scope (I am not fully decided either way) for a discussion about public ownership in some form, or at least more significant regulation of, the water and come to that the gas and electricity companies. This story tells us……

Michael Gove is to summon water company chief executives to explain why they have failed to meet leakage targets as the country struggles to cope with the dry summer.

The environment secretary said customers expect a "reliable and resilient water supply" following reports of low levels in some reservoirs and the introduction by North West supplier United Utilities of a hosepipe ban from August 5.

It comes as farmers were also due to meet with Government officials for a "drought summit" to discuss the effect of the heatwave on the country's food supplies.

United Utilities has been accused of "wasting" 430 million litres of water every day from leakages but claims that "reducing leaks is a top priority".

The GMB union said earlier this month that its research showed that the firm was allowing 175 Olympic-sized swimming pools' worth of water to go "down the plughole" every day.


Calls for tighter rules after regulator approves foreign ships dumping palm oil in British waters for three years

I naively didn’t appreciate it was still possible to do the things this article draws attention to. Not good news for our seas and an interesting issue to reflect on in terms of a potential impact on our rural coastal holiday resorts. This story tells us:

Campaigners have called for action after the maritime regulator ruled that foreign ships can continue to dump palm oil in British waters for three years.

In February, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved regulation that will require tankers carrying palm oil and other food oils to pump the tank residue into purpose-built disposal facilities, instead of washing it out in open water.

But the new rules will not come into force until July 1, 2021, a timeframe the IMO says will give states and industry time to increase capacity at shore-based oil disposal facilities.

Britain already has the infrastructure required to deal with oil residue and experts say it should ban the dumping of food oils in British waters ahead of the 2021 deadline.


And Finally…..
Villagers scare off speeding motorists after police stop locals from monitoring traffic

We have a scarecrow competition every year in my village. I cant understand personally why people want to make them when there are so many other things one could achieve in one’s life. Nonetheless this story suggests that post our straw day of festival fun some of them might be put to a practical use! It tells us:

For centuries, the humble straw-stuffed scarecrow has been used by farmers to frighten off birds from crops or freshly scattered seeds. But now a Wiltshire village has put them to a very different use after police refused to allow residents to report dangerous driving on their high street.

Wearing high-visibility jackets and holding a fake speed gun and a clipboard, the male and female scarecrows have proved “highly effective” in stopping motorists from speeding in Hindon.

The pair stand alongside a real digital speed monitor which logs the speeds of cars driving passed the village hall. The device also flashes a warning sign saying ‘slow down’ at motorists who break the speed limit.


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


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