Catch up on social policy with a selection of articles you may have missed from September and October 2020. Articles this month take a look at foodbank use and care home visitation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Foodbank Use

The Trussell Trust, an organisation which supports foodbanks across the country, reports that the use of food banks has increased during the coronavirus crisisIt states that 1.9 million emergency food parcels have so far been delivered in 2019/20, compared to 1.6m during 2018/19.  

Further comparisons between 2020 and 2019 show an 89% increase in parcels given out in April, and a 107% increase in parcels for children. Almost 100,000 families accessed a food bank for the first time between April and June 2020.  

The Trussell Trust partnered with Heriot-Watt university at the start of the outbreak to forecast the pressures food banks might face this year. The university modelled two scenarios, one based on a macroeconomic forecast and the other based on personal finances, such as changes to household employment status and income levels.  

Based on the modelling, the Trussell Trust concludes “there is likely to be a significant rise in levels of destitution in the UK by the end of the year”. Its predictions show the need for between 846,000 and 1,325,000 food parcels for families by the end of the year, an increase of between 61% and 153% compared to last year.  

The Trussell Trust recommends the Government: 

  • Locks in the £20 uplift to universal credit. 
  • Suspends benefit debt deductions. 
  • Invests £250m annually in local welfare assistance in England.  

Read the full article: The Trussell Trust, Lockdown, lifelines and the long haul ahead: The impact of Covid-19 on food banks in the Trussell Trust networkSeptember 2020 

Care Homes

In this blog post, the National Care Forum calls for visits to care homes to still be allowed during the coronavirus pandemic.  

It starts by outlining why it believes in-person visits are so important. It argues that visits give “stimulation and unprecedented pleasure” to residents. Carers say that the impact of prolonged restrictions on visits has resulted in residents’ health “going downhill fast” and them “giving up hope” 

Commenting on the Government’s recently released winter plan for adult social care, the NCF estimated that the blanket ban on visits to areas within an “area of intervention” adds up to around 20% of all care homes in England. It argues that this impacts around 300,000 people, including residents and their immediate families. Instead, the NCF calls for more individual risk assessments to be undertaken in centres across the country. It questions the evidence behind banning visits, arguing that there is more risk from hospital patients being transferred to care homes, a practice that is continuing.  

The NCF concludes that the risk of coronavirus transmission by visitors must be balanced against the risks posed to residents’ mental and physical health when they are isolated from loved ones. It makes some suggestions to enable safe, continued visiting to care homes throughout the pandemic: 

  • Some form of rapid testing for staff and visitors. 
  • One designated ‘special visitor’ per resident. 
  • Public liability indemnity for care homes. 
  • Investment to build effective safe spaces within homes. 

Read the full article: National Care Forum, ‘Visiting in care homes: Where now?’, 22 September 2020