Thursday, 13 June 2013

The screw tightens

The number of people seeking support from our local Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) and our local food bank (‘Community Larder’) has soared, several multiples of the figures from a couple of years ago. This was the uncomfortable news at the Annual General Meeting of Churches Together in North East Lincolnshire (CTNEL) last week.

CTNEL has been in the habit of having a ‘justice and peace’ agenda at its AGM rather than one dominated by discussion of, say, how well united worship on Good Friday had gone the previous year, and most usually this is achieved by having a visiting speaker.

CAB was invited this year in the hope that it might brief us about what concerns are most pressing in our particular community, partly in case we were missing something. It turns out that debt stands at the top of the list, which isn’t something we had missed – CTNEL had in fact been behind the creation of the local Credit Union a number of years ago.

One dramatic very recent factor is the benefit changes which came into play at the beginning of April. The cut in benefits paid to those deemed to have a spare bedroom has affected over 500 households (about 6% of the households) in this parish alone.

Given that there simply isn’t a supply of one and two bedroomed flats and houses available for let in North East Lincolnshire on anything like this scale, few of those living in these homes has a realistic prospect of reducing rent by moving to a smaller property, so there is no wonder that the numbers seeking support has soared.

There was one piece of encouraging news. CAB’s national social action approach means it tries to fed back to Government where policy is making a significant impact. The discovery in Grimsby (reflected elsewhere) of how high a proportion of limited income some people were spending on phone calls relating to benefits issues did result in a freephone number being made available.

Meanwhile, a further piece of encouraging news is how grateful the local Islamic Centre has been for the way churches, neighbours and the police have reacted to the recent attacks on it. Apparently there is a display board inside covered in the greetings it has been sent and members say what a welcome part of the community this makes them feel.

The picture comes from our sitting room window sill last week.

3 comments:

Joy Davis said...

An insightful and thought provoking post as always Peter, but with respect, do you mean "soared" meaning 'risen' rather than "soured" which is what curdled milk is?

Peter Mullins said...

Thanks. Corrected. I would pretend that it was a typing error - but the mistake appeared twice...

Joy Davis said...

I didn't know if it was some obscure spelling that I hadn't recognised. Thank you for all your postings, am enjoying reading my way though them. The ancient texts and the interpretations/translations I am finding extremely fascinating, though does make my brain hurt occasionally trying to get to grips with all the words.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge, most appreciated