Hinterland - 01 April

In Hinterland this week - In Hinterland this week, challenges facing older people as poverty increases, delays to: HS2 and a strange bedfellow adult social care, the perils of being an old childless individual, farmers becoming “speechless” when it gets to naming their land and is Brexit really to blame for a feared shortage of forest giraffes??!! Read on...

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Poverty increases among children and pensioners across UK

Its not easy to be a vulnerable person in the countryside. We know it costs more to live in rural England due to distance from services. We know there are limited job opportunities for young people. We know once you lose the ability to drive its hard to retain a stake in rural places. This story is I suspect bad news for rural dwellers who fall into such categories of people. It tells us:

A household is considered to be in relative poverty if their income is below 60% of median income of £507 a week in 2017-18, while they are in absolute poverty if their income is below 60% of the 2010-11 median income, adjusted for inflation.

The latest figures show the number of children living in absolute poverty increased by 200,000 in 2017-18. Relative child poverty also increased before housing costs, and fell slightly after housing costs.

As a result, 30% of children, or 4.1 million, were living in relative poverty (after housing costs) in 2017-18 in the UK and 70% of children living in poverty were in working families.

The percentage of pensioners in relative poverty before housing costs rose from 17% to 18% between 2016/17 and 2017/18.

The Resolution Foundation thinktank said the recent increase in child poverty had been primarily driven by the freeze in the value of working-age benefits, made worse by a spike in inflation to 3% in late 2017.


Ministers delay signing off first half of spending for HS2 by six months

I sense impending disaster here for this project, which has been the source of much long standing anxiety in many rural communities. This story connected with Chris Grayling tells us…

Ministers have delayed signing off on the first half of spending for High Speed 2 over concerns about the project's spiralling costs, The Telegraph can disclose.

A formal "notice to proceed" on the major construction works for the first phase of the project has been put back six months until December - suggesting the government-owned firm behind the scheme will miss its target begin building its tunnels, viaducts and bridges later this year.

The order, which would have unlocked up to £27 billion for the first phase of the line, was due to be issued in June.

But HS2 Ltd is struggling to keep costs contained within the overall budget of £56 billion, meaning ministers will not allow the firm to enter agreements with contractors to begin construction based on the current design.

A Whitehall source said the delay came after Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary made "very clear to HS2" that they must stick to the budget.

The source insisted the line was "crucial"  to providing the transport capacity the country needs. But the delay, which comes amid mounting calls for the scheme to be scrapped, could leave it vulnerable to cancellation by Theresa May's successor as Tory leader - or even a Labour Government, in the event that the Conservatives lose a general election in the meantime.


More than 1m childless people over 65 are 'dangerously unsupported'

We know all about the challenges facing vulnerable older people in rural England. This particular category of the over 65 population is worthy of particular attention and one we seldom think of as a discrete group. This story tells us:

More than 1m childless people over 65 are 'dangerously unsupported'

More than 1 million people aged over 65 without children are “dangerously unsupported”, and at acute risk of isolation, loneliness, poor health, poverty and being unable to access formal care, according to a report.

The number of childless older people in the UK is expected to double by 2030, putting huge pressure on a health and social care system that is already struggling to support the vulnerable, warned Kirsty Woodard, founder of the organisation, Ageing Well Without Children (AWwoC).

“Read any report on inequalities on ageing and you’ll see the adverse impact of being isolated with poor support networks, loneliness, poor health and a low income,” said Woodard. “Certain groups will be highlighted as being particularly at risk, carers for example, people from the LGBT communities, people with disabilities.

“However, one group you will hardly ever see mentioned despite being overrepresented in many of the above at risk categories is people ageing without children – even though they are disproportionately represented in every one of those categories.”

According to Woodard’s analysis, individuals ageing without children have worse health, worse health behaviours and higher mortality rates than parents. Those who are not childless through choice have higher levels of depression and anxiety as they age.


Fury as government delays promised social care reform for sixth time amid Brexit gridlock

It look like the adult social care conundrum will never be resolved! This story tells us….

The government has failed for the sixth time to hit its own deadline to publish details of care system reforms for adults with disabilities and the elderly, because of the Brexit gridlock wracking the Commons.

Charities claimed lives were being put at risk by minsters’ “dithering and delays” and warned vulnerable people denied care, such as those with learning disabilities, were at increased “risk of abuse and neglect”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs in January that he “intends [to publish] before April” the social care green paper containing the government’s plans to make care safer and financially sustainable.

On Friday the Department of Health and Social Care told the The Independent it had no plans to publish the document before Monday 1 April.

Age UK said this was now the sixth time ministers’ assurances have fallen flat since the originally scheduled publication date of summer 2017 was missed.


Tradition of farmers giving names to their land at risk of dying out, researcher warns

I was going to pop this in “And Finally” but on reflection it seemed more apposite and serious than that – it signals part of the severing of agriculture and community. It tells us:

The tradition of farmers giving names to their land is at risk of dying out, a researcher has warned after compiling a new dictionary of English field names.

Field names are first recorded during Anglo-Saxon times and were essential for everyday life before mapping was established with first ordnance survey maps in the mid 18th century.

Some original names survive, others are lost or been renamed as the landscape has changed.

But few field names appear today on modern maps adding to the disconnection between town and country people.

Linguistics expert Dr Paul Cavill fears changing farm practices are driving out historic names for parcels of land that make up the British countryside.

He said: "The demand for bigger fields which has destroyed hedgerows and stone walls has led to the disappearance of many place names that were once well-known in communities."

Dr Cavill, who has just completed a new dictionary of English field names, said: "People looking at names on maps today would not know the history of the land. Field names used to give clues to what was happening on the land, whether it was a field for crops or cattle, which birds or wild animals were  seen there, what locals used it for, as a Mayfield for May Day celebrations or a Lovers' Lane."


And Finally 

No-deal Brexit will put endangered forest giraffes at risk, experts warn

Brexit has been blamed for some things but this is probably the most bizarre Ive come across to date!!!

A no-deal Brexit will put the future of an endangered group of forest giraffes in jeopardy, conservation experts have warned. 

Around 70 okapis, which are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and have a brown body and zebra-like striped legs, reside in zoos in the European Union where free movement rules support an inter-country breeding project.

Should Britain, which houses 15 okapis, crash out of the EU without a transition deal, it would probably be removed from the project.

Sander Hofman, general curator of Antwerp Zoo in Belgium, who coordinates okapi relocation for reproduction, said: “Brexit is very bad news for conservation breeding.

“Fifteen out of my 73 [okapis] are in the UK. You can imagine that if I need to remove these 15, it would be a big blow for my population but it would be even worse for the UK colleagues.”



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


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