Hinterland - 29 March 2021

In Hinterland this week: the challenges of adult social care, Brexit appears neither green nor tasty for rural folk, the places which are top of the pops in rural England if you’re looking to relocate, believe it or not we’re gearing up to prevent a pandemic and a reminder that racism is a feature of rural life.
I have also been asked to ensure that people know that Flogas is the author of the story we recently featured entitled: ‘Rural living can help the UK’s food security problem'.

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Cornwall: Home care issues for people in rural areas

I feel for the staff who manage the commissioning at Cornwall Council and also for the carers forced into this dysfunctional situation. It is the product of a major system failure in relation to national care policy. This story is true to a greater or lesser degree in many rural authorities. It tells us:

Some people living in rural areas are being left without home care packages because providers say they can't recruit enough staff or afford high mileage costs.

More than 80 eligible people in Cornwall currently have no council-funded care, Cornwall Council says.

The authority says it cannot afford to pay more to providers.

Phil Hartley, owner of Hartley Home Care, provides services in Cornwall and Devon, where he says the council pays more for remote carers.

"Devon recognise the cost implications of providing rural care and they now pay a differential rate which is significant - a difference of nearly £4 an hour," he said.

"Whereas in Cornwall there is no differential rate."

Cornwall Council said it does not have "the scale of urban conurbations that Devon has so our contract price reflects the rural nature of Cornwall".

The council added that it works with homecare companies to provide more than 2,800 care packages across Cornwall, and pays the Foundation Living Wage for staff, covering travel times and training.

The government says it's giving councils more than £1 billion of ringfenced money for social care next year.


Data shows collapse of UK food and drink exports post-Brexit

A key indication how Brexit has hit rural communities in terms of their food business base.

Whisky, cheese and chocolate producers have suffered the biggest post-Brexit export losses in the food and drink sector, new figures from HMRC have shown.

Analysis of the figures by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) shows that cheese exports in January plummeted from £45m to £7m year on year, while whisky exports nosedived from £105m to £40m. Chocolate exports went from £41.4m to just £13m, a decline of 68%.

They put the collapse in trade down to a combination of Brexit and weaker demand in Europe, where restaurants, hotels and other hospitality outlets remain closed.

Exports of some other goods such as salmon and beef almost stopped altogether, with declines of 98% and 92% respectively, but by value they were the 7th and 4th biggest losers of the top 10 exports to the EU.

Overall, trade in fish, thanks partly to a complete ban on the exports of certain live shellfish, dropped by 79%.

The figures come hot on the heels of data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing trade between the UK and EU had been hit hard in January, with overall exports down by 40.7% in January compared to December.

It comes as the House of Lords EU environment subcommittee expressed deep concern over the disruption to trade caused by Brexit. “We’re dismayed that our agri-food sector is facing such high trade frictions, “ said Lord Teverson, the subcommittee chair, in a new report due to be published on Tuesday.


Green Brexit didn't happen, says environmental coalition

Another Brexit disappointment. This story tells us:

The so-called “green Brexit” promised by the government has not been delivered, a coalition of environment groups says.

In 2017, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove promised: “Leaving the EU gives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform agriculture and fisheries."

That, he said, would allow the UK to reshape the way it cares for its land, its rivers and its seas.

“In short,” Mr Gove pledged, “it means a Green Brexit.”

Over four years and 11 reports, an environmental coalition called Greener UK has tracked policies - and concluded that improvement across the board has not been realised.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said Brexit enabled the UK to create "world-leading legislation, delivering better environmental outcomes in an effective and efficient way".


10 rural areas with the biggest property price increase in the UK

Well I have to say the tops of the pops featured in this article are part of my stomping ground and I love working with the communities that live there so it’s no surprise to me that they’re so popular.

Rural property prices are at an all-time high, as more Brits swapped city life for country living in lockdown.

In fact, according to the 2021 Rural Property Report by Coulters Property, houses in rural areas have risen by 20.8% in the last five years — a 3.3% higher increase than in urban areas. We might be spending more time at home, but lockdown has sparked rural relocations, giving many the chance to reconsider where to live.

Their research found that Harborough in Leicestershire is one of the most expensive rural areas to reside, with the average house price reaching £328,172 in 2020. In second and third place came East Northamptonshire and Rutland in the East Midlands, respectively, due to their sharp rise in property prices.


UK to set up health agency to combat future pandemics

A case of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted?

A new organisation is being set up with the aim of halting future pandemics. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will launch on 1 April, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, announced.

He told a briefing hosted by the Local Government Association that the “UKHSA must plan, it must prevent and it must respond. UKHSA must be ready.”

Hancock added: “UKHSA, as it will be known, will be this country’s permanent standing capacity to plan, prevent and respond to external threats to health … UKHSA will work with partners around the world and lead the UK’s global contribution to health security research.

“Next, UKHSA will be tasked to prevent external threats to health, deploying the full might of our analytic and genomic capability on infectious diseases … in all, helping to cast a protective shield over the nation’s health. Even after years without a major public health threat, UKHSA must be ready not just to do the science but to respond at unbelievable pace.”

He said the agency would hire the “very best team possible from around the world” and would be led by Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, who will be its chief executive.

Hancock said the agency must be “vigilant, dynamic and confident”. He added: “This isn’t just an agency. Its job is to provide professional leadership here and around the world.”

UKHSA replaces the National Institute for Health Protection, which was established in August with Dido Harding as its interim chair. She will step down to make way for the new agency.

At the same briefing, Lady Harding, who is head of NHS test and trace, said more Britons downloaded the Zoom app than the test and trace app last year.

She said: “[NHS test and trace] was the second most downloaded app in the country last year, only after Zoom, and slightly ahead of TikTok … 21 million people downloaded the app.”

In a statement, Hancock said: “The UKHSA will be this country’s permanent standing capacity to plan, prevent and respond to external threats to health. It will bring together our capabilities from the scientific excellence embodied by the likes of Dr Susan Hopkins and her amazing colleagues in clinical public health, to the extraordinary capability of NHS test and trace, which Dido Harding has built so effectively over the last nine months, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC).


And Finally

A thought provoking finale to Hinterland this week:

Norfolk: Actor Ashton Owen's one-man show reflects on rural racism

Pleased to see this story – rural areas needs to stay alive to the challenge of racism

A man who suffered racist abuse as a child has written a one-man show about his experiences of growing up as a mixed-race person in rural England.

Ashton Owen, 25, will perform his show, titled Outskirts, at Sheringham Little Theatre in north Norfolk.

It will premiere virtually on 22 March and Mr Owen will play more than a dozen characters from his childhood.

He said: "I hope the play gets people to think about what they say and do and how it impacts on people of colour."

The performance is part of the theatre's Rewriting Rural Racism project, being led by young performers in light of the Black Lives Matter movement and its rise to prominence after the death of George Floyd in the United States last year.

Mr Owen, whose father is of Jamaican heritage, said: "We are trying to make people more aware of issues faced by people living in rural areas, by highlighting real experiences, so they realise it happens here as well as the United States."


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


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