This largely urban focused story serves to remind us of the links between health and poverty. There are hidden pockets of rural deprivation where the issues profiled here are likely to be just as acute. Just not as visible.
A rise in the use of food banks and an increase in family disputes requiring mediation has been seen across most of England, according to new research that uncovers the pressures on families during the Covid crisis.
Most local councils in England have also reported increased numbers of people needing help for homelessness, with warnings that many poorer households will face “disaster” unless emergency support is extended well beyond the pandemic.
More than nine in 10 district councils, which represent cities, towns and urban areas across England, have reported an increase in food bank use in the past year. Two-thirds reported an increase in mediations in family breakdowns.
Many also saw a rise in demand for help in dealing with disputes between landlords and tenants, according to a survey by the District Councils’ Network (DCN). It has prompted concerns that the evictions ban, put in place during the pandemic and recently extended, is not giving vulnerable households complete protection.
During 2020-21, 85% of English councils said they had seen an increase in claims from homeless households for temporary accommodation, while almost all councils (93%) had seen an increase in demand for help with paying council tax.
The survey reveals that the many pressures on vulnerable households created by the pandemic are also having a knock-on impact on local authorities, many of which were nearing breaking point even before the Covid crisis emerged.