Hinterland - Friday, 22 June, 2018

This week, we look at a number of health related stories, more challenges for rural dwellers around banking, the risk of frittered away council assets and an indication from across the north sea of how the bicycle is on the rise.

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Rural residents hang up on mobile banking, regulator finds

With the decline of bank branches this article provides some interesting insights. It tells us

Consumers in rural areas of the UK are far less likely to use their smartphones for banking than their urban counterparts, a survey says.

The findings, from the UK’s financial regulator, are set to reignite the debate over bank branch closures – particularly in rural locations.

However, its report also suggests that those in rural areas are more satisfied with their financial circumstances.

The Financial Conduct Authority also exposed a north-south savings divide.

The data comes from a renewed assessment of a survey of 13,000 people’s financial lives by the FCA.

The survey, first published in October last year, found an estimated 4.1 million people are in financial difficulty due to missed domestic or credit bills.

An older population and patchy broadband and mobile coverage will be among the reasons for a take-up rate of just 23% in mobile banking and a 54% take-up of internet banking in rural areas, compared with 45% and 78% respectively in urban areas.

The report also reveals there is greater reliance on bank branches in rural areas, but also more difficulty in reaching those branches owing, in part, to health conditions.

Delay to green paper caps dismal 48 hours for social care

The APPG on Rural Services will be discussing the up-coming Green Paper on Adult Social Care early next month. Looks like they will have longer to wait to get their teeth into the actual document. This articletells us:

When Jeremy Hunt finally admitted to MPs on Monday evening that the green paper on older people’s social care would not now appear before their summer recess, as he had promised, reaction in the care sector was more weary resignation than righteous anger. Disappointment comes with the territory these days.

The news capped a particularly miserable 48 hours for social care, which had been obliged to stand awkwardly by, empty-handed, while ministers proudly unwrapped the English NHS’s 70th birthday present of an extra £20bn a year in real terms by 2023-24 in return for a new 10-year plan for the service.

Hunt, whose job title was amended in January to health and social care secretary, suggested on the BBC Today programme on Monday morning that social care’s gift was in the post. But as the day wore on, it became ever clearer that it wouldn’t be arriving until after decisions in next year’s spending review, for implementation in 2020. Postponement until the autumn of the policy green paper, already deferred since last year, simply compounded the gloom.

Announcing the further delay, Hunt said: “Whilst the long-term funding profile of the social care system will not be settled until the spending review, we will publish the social care green paper ahead of that.

“However, because we want to integrate plans for social care with the new NHS plan, it does not make sense to publish it before the NHS plan has even been drafted. So we now intend to publish the social care green paper in the autumn around the same time as the NHS plan.”

The green paper was due to set out ideas for the long-awaited reform of care and support of older people in England, following the Conservatives’ own goal on the issue at last year’s general election. In a speech in March, Hunt had spelled out seven principles that would underpin it and promised its publication “before the summer”. Civil servants had been working flat out to deliver it.

Double spend on care to make it free for all older people, says report

This article tells us care should be free for all older people who need it, according to a report by former health ministers.

This would require the current £17bn free personal care funding in England to be more than doubled to £36bn by 2030, according to the Lord Darzi Review of Health and Care published on Friday last week.

The report, commissioned by the Institute for Public Policy Research and written by Lord Ara Darzi and Lord David Prior, said that free social care would reduce the cost elsewhere on overall health and care spending for older people.

The authors cited the case of Scotland, where care funding is free for older people, and saying “increased spending on social care [there] has resulted in lower spending overall on health and care for older people”.

Darzi previously recommended that raising national insurance contributions by one pence in the pound could deliver £350m extra a week for the NHS.

Cuts to social care funding over the last decade have led to an average fall of 5% annually in the number of people receiving state-funded care, the peers said.

The NHS is also spending £3bn a year on looking after hospital patients who could be discharged, but who do not have sufficient support at home.

More than 4,000 council assets sold off each year

I find this really sad. I have argued over the last 18 months that a rural sovereign wealth fund could create a new income stream for the sector. It could do this using pooled surplus public sector assets. This article shows how instead local authority resources are still being sold off in a piecemeal and un-strategic way. It tells us:

More than 4,000 council assets are being sold by local authorities every year, with the majority going to private developers rather than being transferred to community ownership, according to the local communities charity Locality.

After making freedom of information requests to all 353 local councils in England, Locality says in its report The Great British Sell Off that, although there are no official figures for the number of sales or details of who bought the buildings in question, it appears that councils sold a large number of buildings to private developers every year between 2012 and 2016.

Less than half of councils in England have strategies to support community ownership, Locality says, which shows a “significant lack of planning and a short-term approach to making critical decisions about public buildings and spaces being permanently lost to the community”.

A “deep” approach to mission helps churches connect with local communities, report finds

Church assets in terms of both buildings and people provide a real resource for rural community development. This report helps put more flesh on those bones. It tells us:

A Partnership for Missional Church programme developed by the Church Mission Society for local churches, helps to empower lay people, a study has found. The finding came into a report commissioned into the three-year PMC programme which CMS introduced in the UK in 2011. The two key findings in the study are that churches taking part in the PMC programme engaged publicly with their local communities; and that lay people felt empowered to step into positions of leadership within the local church and beyond. The results were found across church traditions and in both urban and rural contexts.

The study was conducted by Liz Clutterbuck and Andy Schofield of the Transformational Index group, who spoke to 82 participating churches from the dioceses of Southwell and Nottingham, Leicester, Oxford and Durham. The research included a survey of church members.

“Seventy-two per cent of respondents said that PMC had made a positive impact on their ability to establish partnerships outside the church, and seven out of 10 said PMC had also made a positive impact on their individual Christian lives, deepening both their personal faith and their corporate spiritual experience,” CMS said in a statement.

Netherlands considering paying people to cycle to work in effort to cut road congestion

This report is a straw in the wind indicating how those who desport themselves in lycra on our roads are on the up! It tells us:

The Dutch government is encouraging companies to pay people to cycle to work as part of a national initiative to fight worsening congestion on the roads.

“Let’s get out of our cars and onto our bikes”, Dutch deputy infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven said this week as she announced new measures to encourage cycling.

She has proposed a compensation scheme for working adults in which they receive 19 cents (17p) for each kilometre they cycle as part of their commute.

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


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