The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has published data that shows malnutrition, among other diseases we associate with Victorian times, has increased in the Devon, Cornwall, and Isles of Scilly NHS area. You can see the data in the excel file Topic of Interest-Victorian Diseases-Data here.

In the year August 2014-July 2015 the rate of malnutrition admission episodes in Devon, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly NHS team area was 2.4 per 100 000 population, the highest of the twenty five areas of England. This is nearly double the average rate for England of 1.3. There has been an increase of 34 percent over 2010/11 admissions for malnutrition in the Devon, Cornwall, and Isles of Scilly area.

The number of admissions in the area is very small but I think it is troubling that malnutrition is around and increasing in 2015. Look too at patients’ ages. Note too that the numbers are not of individuals but admissions as a patient may be admitted more than once in a year.

The Trussell Trust, which runs foodbanks, has said, “We often see parents who are going without food so that they can feed their children.” In Britain. In 2015. There is a growing food crisis for many in our country and the Tory government is floundering.

The published data does not show how many of the admissions were of people separately resident in each of the three counties in the team area.


12 October 2015

The Office for national statistics (ONS) has today published data showing that last year there were about 53 000 jobs in Cornwall paying less than the then living wage hourly rate of £7.65 for those aged twenty one and over. This represented 31.6 percent of all Cornwall jobs.

Of the 293 local authorities in England outside London, Cornwall is at 250 where 1 is best (lowest proportion) and 293 is worst (highest proportion).

The voluntary living wage, set by the Living Wage Foundation, is higher than the mandatory minimum wage and George Osborne’s recently announced and misleadingly called national living wage.

Five of the thirty three local authorities in London, where in April 2014 the living wage set by the Mayor of London, was £8.80 an hour, had a higher proportion of jobs below the wage than Cornwall.

The estimates of percentages are based on the 2014 provisional ASHE data.

The data shows that poor wages are a lively issue in Cornwall. They underlie many other difficulties for many here, including poverty and housing and choices in everyday living. Cornwall Council and town and parish councils should scrutinise their spending to ensure their poor get a very fair share and none is wasted on frivolous projects.

I should like to see the parties in Cornwall responding positively to the issues raised in this post and in my post of the other day Deprivation in Cornwall 2015 and to the risks of increasing poverty for children that I discussed in the post Assaulting poverty or the poor – that is, responding to the issues (not to me) with specific and material ideas for at least mitigation of distress. Let’s hear the clarion from Labour, Liberal Democrats, Mebyon Kernow, and the Greens here in Cornwall, and, yes, the Conservatives and UKIP here too.

ASHE: Annual survey of hours and earnings (ONS)

The ONS explains that the jobs are for employees aged eighteen and over paid at adult rates of pay; the coefficient of variation (cv) shows that the Cornwall figures are “precise”.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has just published the latest measures of deprivation for small areas in England with an average population of around 1500. These areas are called lower-layer super output areas (LSOAS) and the deprivation measures are called the indices of multiple deprivation (IMD).

There are 32 844 LSOAS in England now.

The IMD is made up of various components of deprivation such as income and employment and housing and an aggregate figure, the IMD. You can see the IMD 2015 here. It is largely based on data from 2012/13 and is an update of the 2010 IMD.

The House of Commons Library has very usefully recast the 2015 IMD data for LSOAS into data for each of the 533 parliamentary constituencies in England. Click here for the detailed Constituency data table and an explanatory note Deprivation in English constituencies 2015.

The Library data includes much more and especially a comparison with the 2010 data showing improvement or deterioration in each constituency relative to the others. Rank 1 is most deprived, rank 533 is least deprived.

I put here the data for the six Cornwall constituencies

Constituency: 2015 rank/2010 rank

Camborne and Redruth 141/153

St Ives 179/188

St Austell and Newquay 184/214

North Cornwall 197/226

South East Cornwall 242/285

Truro and Falmouth 284/277

Only Truro and Falmouth has improved its relative position in 2015 against 2010.

The data shows that around at least a quarter of the England constituencies have more relative deprivation than the Cornwall ones; more than half are worse than Truro and Falmouth.

Cornwall is various

Of course different parts of a constituency experience different levels of deprivation: the DCLG site provides data for each LSOA which shows the clusters of deprivation inside a constituency. In Cornwall those clusters show ranges from a rank of 414 to 26457 (where 1 is most deprived and 32 844 is least deprived). That range is vast and brings me again to the point I have made often: Cornwall is various; we should focus with effect on those parts of Cornwall where people experience serious deprivation.


9 April 2015

The Tory Libdem coalition has been a nasty government. It has hit the poor and vulnerable, savaged public goods like funds for affordable housing, and used austerity as an opportunity to undermine the state and the collective endeavour for the good of the many that the state enables. The Tories and Libdems are marketising the health service and comforting the rich. For five years they have stretched out their coalition hand and visited us with a darkness that can be felt.

Here are some very recent examples of their government:

Forty percent of new teachers quit within a year Guardian 31 March 2015

NHS damaged Guardian 7 April 2015
Doctors say “this administration’s record is characterised by broken promises, reductions in necessary funding, and destructive legislation, which leaves health services weaker, more fragmented, and less able to perform their vital role than at any time in the NHS’s history”.

Tory Libdem benefit sanctions policy has led to food banks Guardian 9 April 2015

Children coming to school hungry Guardian 5 April 2015

NHS hospital waiting time figures worst in seven years Guardian 9 April 2015

Trussell Trust: written evidence to Works and pensions select committee with examples of job centre ‘sanctioning’ 12 December 2014. Evidence to the committee from others is here.

And this too:
Schools forced to act as ‘miniature welfare states’ with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils Independent 1 May 2015

Darkness that can be felt: Exodus 10.21

UPDATE 18 January 2015 The Centre for responsible credit has published a report on the dire fall in welfare assistance since the localisation of the scheme. The report Where now for local welfare schemes? is here:scroll down to the pdf download.

ORIGINAL POST 24 December 2014
The coalition Tory/Libdem government celebrates Christmas by dumping central government support for the most vulnerable

It’s the season of goodwill so here is a seasonable tale.

I wrote earlier about the localisation of a welfare safety net, what in Cornwall is now called the crisis and care awards and is generally known as local welfare provision or assistance. It is to help people who are desperate and vulnerable and in a crisis, a truly important safety net.

Initially central government ran it but in April 2013 handed over separate and identifiable funds for it to local councils to develop their own schemes. The funding was not ring fenced. Cornwall Council received £985 074 in 2013/14 and 2014/15 from the government for its local scheme (plus administration funds).

Earlier this year the Tory/Libdem government announced it was ceasing from April 2015 to fund the local schemes with separate and specific funds. This led to a legal challenge and then a further consultation.

The upshot of all this is set out in the recently proposed local government settlement: central government will no longer provide separate and identified, but not ringed fenced, funding for local welfare assistance schemes which are in addition to general revenue funds. The funds for these schemes will now have to come from a council’s general revenue grants from central government, that is be funded from within a council’s existing budget.

As a sop to critics, the government is indicating the amount of general funds that could appropriately be spent by a council on its local welfare provision scheme but spending all or any of it on such a scheme is not mandatory; indeed, some councils have abandoned their schemes.

The government’s new proposed arrangements are set out in 2.2 here.

So there you have it, a Tory/Libdem tale for the season of goodwill.

I hope that Cornwall Council will ensure its scheme continues and is fully funded. I think the council is looking for new ways of delivering it but its continuance at its present level at least is very important. It helps those in genuine need.

Cornwall Council statement of 18 December 2014 on the proposed local government finance settlement included this: “We also welcome the fact that the Government has decided to retain the local welfare provision grant which means we will receive £885,000 (a reduction of £250,000 on last year’s grant) to help support vulnerable people in Cornwall this year.” This puzzles me. It seems to me to be an interesting interpretation of what the government funding proposals are for local welfare provision.

The Tory/Libdem government announcement December 2014 included this explanation: “Local authorities will continue to be able to offer local welfare assistance from within existing budgets, alongside a range of other services in 2015 – 16 if they judge it a priority in their area. It would be helpful to many areas to see how much of their existing funding relates to this. An amount relating to local welfare provision has been separately identified in each upper-tier authority’s general grant, totally £129.6 million nationally.“

In November 2014 the government had said this of its proposals for local welfare assistance schemes : “from April 2015, it was intended that this would be funded from general grant to Local Government, instead of an identifiable sum being made available specifically for this purpose as before (albeit on a non-ringfenced basis).”

See also Guardian 18 December 2014, an article of the ending of central government funding.


7 December 2014

Any words from me would be … but compare and contrast

House of Lords insists on its expensive subsidised champagne
Observer 7 December 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury excoriates poverty and hunger in Britain
Mail on Sunday 7 December 2014


28 November 2014

Time for a reminder that London and the southeast, those replete ogres and fatcat monsters of Cornish political nationalist and piranist fantasy, are not of a piece. There is poverty and deprivation there too.

First, here is a recent report on a London from the Centre for London telling a story that many in Cornwall appear not to know about: Hollow promise: how London fails people on modest incomes and what should be done about it (September 2014). And there’s London’s poverty profile 2013 another account of poverty in the golden streets.

Second, here are a couple of reports on poverty in Kent in the southeast:

Huge numbers of Kent children living in poverty

The hidden problem of poverty in Kent

I mentioned recently the comparison made by John Pollard, the leader of Cornwall Council, of rural Cornwall with pampered urban Hackney in London and showed how deprived many people, adults and children, in Hackney were. Last year in the post Mirror, mirror, on the wall, where’s the poorest of us all I pointed out that it is part of a ward in Essex that is the poorest of us all.

The UK government has cut its funds to Cornwall Council (and other councils) and the Council has in turn had to cut its spending on most services. I think we are seeing a fundamental rejigging of local government in England that is spasmodic, unplanned, and undiscussed. Anyway, Newcastle council has compared the cuts 2010/11-2013/14 for each council in England. You can access the data here; and it also gives the 2010 rankings for the Index of multiple deprivation (IMD) of each local authority.

Note that Cornwall has had cash cuts of £95.16 per person during 2010/11-1014/15. That puts Cornwall at 120 out of 324 local authorities (where 1 is worst). As I have written so many times, Cornwall is not uniquely deprived and poor; there are many places in England (and the rest of the UK) that experience more deprivation; and Cornwall is not singled out for unfair funding.

Back to the Pollard comparison: let me point out that the Newcastle data shows that Hackney had a cut of £337.91 per person, that is the largest cash cut of the 324.

Yes, there is great wealth for some people in parts of London and the southeast; there is also great poverty. The Cornwall county flag may be black and white but life seldom is.


12 September 2014

The other day John Pollard, the leader of Cornwall Council, talking about the funding by central government of rural and urban areas in England, said, “We currently receive less than half the money per head of population than that given to Hackney”.

Even if you think there is an urban/rural imbalance in funding and it should be righted, this is an ill-advised comparison. I’ve noted before simplistic Cornwall comparisons: see here for an MK one.

Anyway, let’s take up the challenge and compare Cornwall and Hackney over several fields.

I have chosen from the numerous fields that show how much more widespread deprivation and poverty are in Hackney than in Cornwall, aspects that should figure in the redistribution of central government funds to local authorities. Disadvantage impacts upon local government spending on services like housing, education, social care, and culture. Of course in some fields Hackney does better but the decider factors of government redistribution point to Hackney worse off than Cornwall. And of course in some fields, for example job seeker’s allowance for the unemployed, the funding is separate from that given directly to local councils. I am trying to show how Hackney suffers wide disadvantage.

I give a link to the online sources at the end of each section; note that at the source there may be other tables presenting information in various ways.

Note 4 April 2015: I have put here up-to-date data for the various items as in the post Fair funding for Cornwall of 3 April 2015

Index of multiple deprivation 2010 (next IMD due 2015)
This is a major measure of deprivation across several components such as income and housing. I have taken the rank of scores where 1 indicates the worst overall deprivation of 326 local authorities:

Cornwall 110
Hackney 2 (that is, worse than 324 of the 326 local authorities)


Free school meals
Percentage of pupils eligible for and claiming free school meals, January 2014, in state funded nursery and primary schools and secondary school

Cornwall 13.5% in nursery and primary schools, 11.9% in secondary schools
Hackney 30.2% in nursery and primary schools, 33.9% in secondary schools


Child poverty 2014
Cornwall 16.90% of children in poverty (before housing costs), 26.35 percent (after housing costs)
Hackney 27.46% of children in poverty (before housing costs), 41.37 percent (after housing costs)


Deprivation among pupils
The proportion of pupils eligible for the deprivation pupil premium 2014-2015 (provisional figures):
Cornwall primary pupils 22.5%, secondary 24.2%
Hackney primary pupils 48%, secondary 55.6 %


Bedroom tax
How many are adversely affected by the bedroom tax? These are the percentages for 9 May 2014, the latest available, of the tenants with housing benefit who have that housing benefit reduced because of the bedroom tax/spare room subsidy and the average weekly amount lost:

Cornwall 6.1%, £14.03
Hackney 8.1%, £21.07


Job seekers allowance
This is a measure of unemployment; the figures are the percentage of men and women aged 18-65 claiming job seeker’s allowance in July 2014:

Cornwall 1.4%
Hackney 3.6%

Source Put in the local authority name

Why does Hackney get more than Cornwall?
Why does Hackney get more? Hmm, I wonder if it’s anything to do with the scale of derivation and poverty and disadvantage that the data in the first part of this post shows? Cornwall is not a victim, unfairly funded in general; there are administrative areas of England worse off than us and they rightly get more government help. As I have explained ages ago, we can home in on particular places of severe disadvantage in Cornwall and elsewhere in England and should certainly help them.

Per pupil funding 2014-2015
Incidentally, the per pupil funding for 2014-2015 shows that 56 England local authorities get less than Cornwall. While some are notably prosperous places, the lesser funded also include places like Plymouth, Bury, and Nottinghamshire. The details are in Appendix B here. Of course Hackney gets noticeably more per pupil than Cornwall but you can understand that now.

Let’s end on good news for some in Cornwall. The Good pub guide 2015 says the average pint of beer in London costs £3.79. In Cornwall it’s £3.19.

Don’t forget to check the original sources to see the smallprint explanations.

The details of the 2014/15 local government funding by central government (the Settlement Funding Assessment)are here. Appendix B shows that Hackney is the highest per-dwelling funded of all the London authorities; several have lower per-dwelling funding than Cornwall.

On 16 September 2014 the Centre for London publishes London’s hollow promise: how the city fails people on modest incomes and what should be done about it, its report on working households in London on low to modest incomes and the housing difficulties and cost of living they face.

There is an update at the foot of the post and a link to a later post

As part of the Tory Libdem changes to welfare two discretionary aspects of the social fund previously administered by the Department for work and pensions (DWP), crisis loans and community care grants, have been abolished. From April 2013 funds have been given by central government to local authorities for a replacement local welfare scheme. In Cornwall this is called the Crisis and care awards scheme.

Very briefly, the scheme gives help to low-income people in an emergency with living expenses and helps vulnerable people with, for example, household equipment, to enable them to live in the community. Cornwall Council has excellent leaflets on its website here explaining the scheme.

In 2013/14 Cornwall was given £985 074 by central government for the scheme (and additional separate funds for administration).

It gave £647,724.25 of those funds to 2272 successful applications. That’s about 66 percent of the total funds the council received and about 55 percent of total applications.

The council did not distribute £337 000 of its allocated funds as crisis and care awards. It gave £150 000 of that to Citizens Advice Bureau for advice to people the council referred to it. That’s a wise use of the undistributed funds. And the rest of it? That money, meant for the vulnerable and poor in Cornwall, went into the council’s general funds.

Cornwall has been given the same amount for the scheme from central government for 2014/15 so that looks like another by-gift from the desperate to the council’s funds.

Cornwall Council should look carefully at its local criteria for these awards to make sure nobody in need is being excluded who could be included. Could the criteria reasonably be loosened? While protecting people’s privacy, is it possible for the council to give as examples details of some applications refused so that we can be reassured about the criteria in practice? A much smaller proportion of applications were successful in 2013/14 compared with the data for 2005/06 and 2009/10 in Appendix D here but some reduction was expected because of the changes in arrangements for distribution.

If the council indeed has the awarding spot on, and that may very well be so, central government has been too generous in its allocation to Cornwall. Perhaps in that case rather than absorb the undistributed surplus into general funds the council could, if permissible, give it or its equivalent to the foodbanks in the county: they are another working scheme for crisis and care scheme for people here.

More worrying is the Tory Libdem government’s intention to end the scheme at the end of the current financial year. Councils will be expected to meet the needs of the present scheme from the general funds given to them by central government, what we call their own resources. That is a severe challenge. I hope Cornwall Council is already planning how it will do this.

Update 13 November 2014
The Department for work and pensions has published Local welfare provision review (November 2014). You can access it from Deposited parliamentary papers (DEP 2014-1442 of 10 November 2014). Page 21 gives some possible reasons for underspending the funds by local authorities.

Later post
Government dumps the vulnerable 24 December 2014

The news about child poverty is grim. After four years of Tory Libdem government we now know that the 2020 targets for reducing the poverty will be missed. The Labour government made commendable progress on reducing child poverty but overall its record was patchy and disappointing; however, the current government has worsened that.

The details are set out by the Social mobility and child poverty commission in its report Understanding parental employment scenarios necessary to meet the 2020 child poverty targets (June 2014). Read it here. Note the judgement: “It is impossible to meet the absolute or relative poverty targets even with unfeasibly large increases in parental employment” (page 42). Actually, two thirds of children in poverty are in working households.

In 2010/11 the proportions of children in relative and absolute poverty were 17 percent and 20 percent. By 2020 those figures are likely to be 21 percent and 24 percent. (These are the figures before housing costs.)

The report notes that the Institute for fiscal studies (IFS) presents a worse picture of 22.5 percent and 27.9 percent: see page 67.

On the heels of the news about the child poverty targets the Trussell Trust tells us that in 2013/14 it gave emergency food aid to 330 205 children in Britain. The Trust has food banks in Cornwall at Bude, Callington, Helston, Launceston, Liskeard, Penryn, Saltash, St Austell, Truro, and Wadebridge. Other organisations have food banks elsewhere in Cornwall and Britain so the Trussell figures necessarily understate the scale and help.

The Trussell Trust, Oxfam, and Church action on poverty have put out the report Below the breadline: the relentless rise of food poverty in Britain (June 2014) which looks at poverty in detail. You can access the free report through their websites.

This poverty is scandalous, a moral and practical failure. Large tranches of our people are being left in a dismal want that distorts their present and future lives, that wastes their talent and robs them and us of their skills. We can do better than this – and the living wage of Cornwall Council and a few others here will help. Let us see what realistic and thought-out practical policies the parties come up with to mitigate and eventually erase child poverty.

Notes and previous posts
I have written several posts about child poverty: these are the most recent. Be sure to read the definition of poverty, relative and absolute, in the various reports.

More hungry people, more foodbanks 17 October 2013

Suffer little children 2 September 2013

Cornwall child poverty costs 19 July 2013

Child poverty still with us 15 June 2012

Child poverty in Cornwall 2012 22 February 2012

Child poverty up and up and up 13 October 2011

Child poverty: yesterday and tomorrow 16 May 2011

Here is the CPAG report by Rys FARTHING Local authorities and child poverty: balancing threats and opportunities (July 2013). It is also accessible from here.

Here is the 2012 report from the End Child Poverty.

Section 6.4 in Living Standards, Poverty and Inequality in the UK: 2013 (IFS) discusses child poverty over time.