The Health News United Kingdom July 20 2017

Overview

  • Rates of severe anxiety and depression among unemployed people have soared by more than 50 % percent in the last four years as the impact of “harsh” austerity policies take their toll, The Independent can reveal. The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) said the Government’s reforms of welfare payments were to blame for the rise, as benefit cuts and sanctions “are having a toxic impact on mental health”.
  • It’s the aim of the UK government’s latest plan to discourage smoking, ultimately driving the proportion of adult smokers down to the notional “endgame” level of less than 5% percent. “Our vision is nothing less than to create a smoke free generation,” says Steve Brine, minister for public and primary care, in his foreword to the plan, Towards a Smokefree Generation.
  • The HMRC has ruled carers sleeping overnight to provide safety and reassurance should be be paid the national minimum wage for all hours. According to minimum wage legislation, employers must take into account shifts where staff are allowed to sleep as long as they are “at work and under certain work-related responsibilities”. Until recently, many overnight carers were paid a flat rate allowance for the ‘sleep-in’, with additional wages paid for work carried out.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 20th of July 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health News

http:www.independent.co.uknewshealthcuts-mental-health-unemployed-rise-government-welfare-reforms-blamed-a7841941.html

Rates of severe anxiety and depression among unemployed people have soared by more than fifty percent in the last four years  as the impact of “harsh” austerity policies take their toll, The Independent can reveal.  The UK Council for Psychotherapy said the Government’s reforms of welfare payments were to blame for the rise,  as benefit cuts and sanctions “are having a toxic impact on mental health”. New analysis of data from NHS surveys of GP patients shows that in March two thousand and seventeen,  fifteen point two per cent of unemployed people said they suffered from severe or extreme anxiety or depression.  

This figure has increased steadily from ten point one percent in June two thousand and thirteen, and marks a sharper jump than rates of the conditions among the general population,  which rose twenty percent over the same period, from three point four percent of people to four point one per cent.  According to Janet Weisz, the UKCP’s chief executive that the devastating impact of the benefits cap for families with children,  the freezing of benefits at a time of inflation, and the cutting of benefits for the disabled  are putting claimants under terrible mental and financial strain and the constant threat of benefit sanctions only adds to the pressure.

A four-year freeze on benefits has been in place since April two thousand and sixteen, despite rising inflation, which hit two point nine percent last month.  The austerity measure, widely recognised as a key driver behind forecasts of rising poverty to come,  is expected to reduce support by thirteen billion pounds by two thousand and twenty,  above the Government’s forecast of nine billion pounds, according to research from the House of Commons Library.

People claiming benefits can have their payments cut or stopped entirely if they miss one job centre appointment.  The minimum sanction period was increased from one week to four in October two thousand and twelve.  About a quarter of people on Jobseeker’s Allowance received at least one sanction between two thousand ten and two thousand fifteen, according to the National Audit Office,  which warned last year that the Department for Work and Pensions is not doing enough to find out how sanctions affect people on benefits.

https:www.newscientist.comarticle2140968-uk-government-wants-only-12-per-cent-of-adults-to-smoke-by-2022

It’s the aim of the UK government’s latest plan to discourage smoking,  ultimately driving the proportion of adult smokers down to the notional “endgame” level of less than five percent.  “Our vision is nothing less than to create a smoke free generation,” says Steve Brine, minister for public and primary care, in his foreword to the plan towards a Smokefree Generation.

Anti-smoking lobby groups have welcomed the plan, but warn that it won’t work unless the government reverses cuts in budgets  and resources for smoking cessation services offered through the National Health Service and by local authorities.

The proportion of adult smokers in England has already fallen within six years from twenty point two to fifteen point five per cent,  the lowest level since records began, and way lower than fourty years ago when almost half the adult population smoked.  But the goal now is to drive it down to less than twelve per cent by two thousand and twenty two.

Another key aim of the new plan is to produce a new generation of non-smokers by reducing the proportion of under-fifteens smoking from eight to three per cent by two thousand and twenty two.  More than three quarters of adult smokers began as teens.

The plan will also seek to make the NHS smoke-free by two thousand and twenty, and mental health inpatient services smoke-free by two thousand and eighteen.

http:www.bbc.comnewshealth-40648952

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has ruled carers sleeping overnight to provide safety and reassurance should be paid the national minimum wage for all hours.

Mencap says the total bill for back pay – due by September, and in some cases dating back six years – could be  four hundred million pounds.  The government says carers should be paid fairly.  The national minimum wage for those aged twenty five and over is seven point fifty pounds an hour,  which will increase to nine pounds by two thousand and twenty two.  While on night shifts, most employees providing care in people’s own homes are allowed to sleep,  providing they can be woken to deal with any incidents.  According to minimum wage legislation, employers must take into account shifts where staff are allowed to sleep as long as they are “at work and under certain work-related responsibilities”.  Until recently, many overnight carers were paid a flat rate allowance for the ‘sleep-in’, with additional wages paid for work carried out.

Derek Lewis, Chairman of Mencap said that smaller care charities were on the brink of disaster as a result of the changes.  The charity lost an appeal in April this year, against a ruling that it was wrong to have paid a support worker twenty nine point five pounds for a nine-hour sleep-in shift.  Mister Lewis also said the carer is only there ‘just in case’ to provide safety and reassurance and is rarely disturbed  and there will be a major impact on the five thousand five hundred people we support and some may even end up losing that support all together.

“For many smaller care providers across the country the financial impact will be devastating.”

Mencap employ around five thousand five hundred carers on an overnight basis, and says it plans to appeal further next year.

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