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The Centre for Social Justice and The Sun host debate to highlight referendum issues affecting low income Britain

By Amelia Abplanalp

Last night the Centre for Social Justice hosted a high profile EU referendum debate aimed at putting the focus on issues that matter to Britain’s low income families: “In or Out: what the referendum means for cash strapped Brits”.

Former Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith and Energy Minister, Andrea Leadsom made the case for pulling out of the EU versus former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke and Owen Smith (Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary) for staying in.

Introducing the speakers, Philippa Stroud said:

"The Centre for Social Justice is neutral on the issue of Leave or Remain, but we are not neutral on the issue of poverty. We want to make sure that the biggest UK debates focus on the issues that matter to our poorest communities and low income Britain."

As the EU referendum campaign reaches its final few weeks and the rhetoric heats up, the Centre for Social Justice has called on both campaigns to make their case to low income Britain.

We hope that this debate will help nudge the campaigns for both Leave and Remain to focus their final fortnight of campaigning on explaining how their case will impact families in our poorest communities.

Opportunity to put adults with learning disabilities in control of their care

By Saskia Greenhalgh

Since 2010 investment in residential care for adults with learning disabilities has been allowed to stagnate, whilst the number of people with the most acute disabilities, and who require the most support is set to rise by nearly 40% between 2010 and 2026.

Across England adults with learning difficulties have seen a reduction in the number of hours of support they are given, less financial support to acquire that care, and are now being charged more for this care.

As funding pressures have set in, this looming crisis has hit home. In the CSJ's new report, The Need for Community: A study of housing for adults with learning disabilities, we set out the true extent of this challenge.

Our new report has raised concerns that adults with learning disabilities aren’t always receiving the right care to allow them to live independent lives.

The CSJ wants to see the autonomy, independence and the potential of those with learning disabilities placed at the heart of the care system. Both supported living and residential care are important models of provision and people should be able to choose which model best suits their needs and allows them to thrive, learn, grow and develop independence.

Our report sets out a road map for making this happen.

The report finds nearly 1 in 5 adults with a learning disability said they can’t afford basic necessities without help from family. While 17% saw a reduction in their hours of support and 18% were being charged more for the services they received.

Recommendation: Britain needs a care system in which there is transparency between care commissioning decisions and the impact these have on those at the heart of the system.To achieve this, the Government should abolish the outdated distinction between ‘supported living’ and ‘residential care’, which obstructs this view. Instead we introduce a new regulatory term, “housing with care” enabling bespoke support to be delivered around individual needs not regulatory bureaucracy.

Recommendation: Alongside a single new description for residential support, care providers should be required to differentiate between how much they charge for ‘housing’ and how much they charge for ‘care’.

This will bring much needed transparency to the provision of care, and place adults with learning disabilities and their advocates in control.

Recommendation: In a call to the Treasury we recommend allowing those in residential care to claim housing benefit and the daily living component of Personal Independence Payments to address a potential bias towards supported living in the provision of care.

Recommendation: Our report found big shortfalls in the quality of advocacy on behalf of adults with learning disabilities.Our report calls on the Government to establish a truly independent advocacy process to ensure that the voice of those with learning disabilities is always heard.

The care and accommodation people with learning disabilities receive is fundamental to their quality of life.

If how we care for our most vulnerable is a litmus test for a compassionate society, the urgency of this issue becomes clear.

CSJ report: The Need for Community: A study of housing for adults with learning disabilities

Conservative Home article: A three point plan to tackle care for adults with learning disabilities

A new smart card points the way to helping those on low incomes stay out of debt.

By Hannah Gousy

A quarter of working age people currently have no savings, a figure which leaps to 80% in our poorest families. Millions lack the money to cover unexpected bills or deal with a temporary lack of income.

What this means is that a large proportion of the British people are not protected should the normal income shocks of life happen, a car breaking down or a leaky tap.  It doesn’t take much. Keeping out of debt is as much about avoiding financial pitfalls as it is about saving regularly.

This week the Centre for Social Justice supported the launch of a new financial product called SourceCards.

SourceCards is a revolutionary new debit card providing financial support to people on low incomes. The card helps people pay their bills, manage their finances and offers personal support to help with debt advice and budgeting through a personal advisor.

At its simplest, SourceCards is a low cost bank account, with a Visa debit card and a series of online wallets, protecting rent, utilities and food budgets and helping balance the books when there is “too much month for the money”. In addition to help with every day budgets, the cards can be supported by “partners” who can make payments on these cards in the form of grants or discounts on utilities.

SourceCards has the potential to transform lives by helping people to help themselves.

The Centre for Social Justice strongly recommends the Government looks carefully at the SourceCard revolution and incorporate it into plans to help those on low incomes avoid problem debt through its Universal Support reforms.

Further information about Source Cards.