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Scrapping Covid universal credit boost set to hit poor health areas the hardest

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By ending the additional £1,000 a year boost to universal credit, new research finds that the mental and physical health of thousands will be damaged.

The Health Foundation predict that areas of the UK such as Blackpool, East London, and Wolverhampton, where people already struggle with worsened health, will be hardest hit by these cuts.

Payments will be reduced back down by £80 a month, or £20 a week, to the original amount pre- pandemic, and further support has also been ruled out by the government.

Baroness Stedman-Scott, the work and pensions minister, has revealed that there has been no assessment of the impact the scrapping of the universal credit boost will have on the public.

“The department has not completed an impact assessment of the ending of the temporary uplift, as it was introduced as a temporary measure.” The minister recalls.

“This is because we have no obligation to conduct an impact assessment as we’re returning to business as usual as the temporary Covid uplift is expiring as it was always intended to do.” She continues.

This news, as well as Boris Johnson’s plans to increase tax and national insurance contributions by 1.25%, will have a massive impact on the health of the public, especially with winter just around the corner.

Charities such as Save the Children have spoken on the subject, with director Dan Paskins saying, “this time of year is already challenging, with parents having to pay more for heating, school uniforms and winter clothes.”

The Health Foundation charity say that these additional stressors will add an extra challenge for those residing in poorer areas of the UK such as Blackpool, where over the course of one year, the average loss of benefits will be £283 per person.

According to the charity, 7 out of the 10 worst affected UK council areas have a healthy life expectancy below 60 years, and “the removal of such a vital chunk of income (will) contribute to rising mental ill health.”

Marcus Rashford, footballer and anti- poverty advocate has spoken up publicly on the issue, tweeting “we should be focusing efforts on developing a sustainable long- term roadmap out of this child hunger pandemic.”

The DWP’s latest figures show that there were 5 million households receiving universal credit as of the 8th of July 2021, a staggering number of families due to be affected by the boost cut.

There has been a variation of academic studies that define a link between poor mental health and universal credit.

Research at Newcastle and Teesside universities has established that UC should be deemed a serious threat to public health, with a number of claimants saying that dealing with the system has been so stressful that they had considered suicide.

Labour MP Zarah Sultana has recognised the cut to universal credit as “an attack on the working class from the party of the super- rich,” and has debated in parliament to defend the members of her constituency affected by the cut.

When asking the public to get in touch with her regarding how the cut would have an impact on their daily lives, Sultana reported that the responses were “truly heart-breaking.”

However, the Labour MP is seemingly outnumbered, with another government spokesperson saying “as announced by the chancellor… the uplift to universal credit was always temporary.

“It was designed to help claimants through the economic shock and financial disruption of the toughest stages of the pandemic, and it has done so.”

Director of health at the Health Foundation, Jo Bibby, speaks up to say that “the pandemic is not yet over and if we are to avoid long- term scars, it is vital that we maintain this support on which so many families rely.”

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STACK Newcastle Bosses Scrap Plans For Christmas Pop-Up Venue

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The owners of STACK have confirmed that there won’t be a pop-up version in Newcastle this Christmas, as plans have been shelved.

At the end of September it was reported that STACK’s owner, Danieli Group, were hoping to bring the brand back to the heart of Newcastle after its Pilgrim Street site was demolished earlier this year, after becoming a firm favourite with locals and visitors since 2018. The pop-up, close to the Crowne Plaza hotel in the Stephenson Quarter, looked set to be a massive draw before STACK makes its permanent return to the city next year, was planned to feature a number of shipping container bars, a new take on its famous Hadrian’s Tipi, street food vans, a stage and large screen, all on one level.

But, it has now been announced that the proposed STACK festive pop-up won’t be happening anymore. Confirming the decision, Neill Winch, CEO of Danieli Group said that while it was sad news that the pop-up would no longer take place, it meant the company can forge ahead with the Worswick Chambers plan.

He commented: “We know how much people miss not having a STACK in Newcastle so we are concentrating our efforts on creating what will become a flagship site back where STACK first began,” he said.

“Work is well underway on the scheme with a view to being open in winter 2023.”

In recent weeks it has announced new developments in Lincoln, Durham, Bishop Auckland and Carlisle.

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Best of North East

TOP 5 SUNDAY ROASTS IN THE NORTH EAST

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Autumn is well and truly upon us, which means it’s also the perfect time of year for a comforting Sunday roast. There is nothing more welcoming than a warming Sunday lunch to cope with the darker, cooler nights. The North East has plenty of great spots for you to try and we’ve highlighted some of the most popular and most delicious.

BRANCHES

Image credit: instagram (@branchesrestaurant)

First up is Branches, a restaurant on the popular Osborne Road in Jesmond. They offer a contemporary elegant dining experience in their stylish, modern dining room with high quality produce sourced from local suppliers (all their meat for the Sunday dinners is sourced from a family farm and butcher that farms in Nidderdale, Moors and Vales.)

 

Their Sunday lunch menu is priced at £19.95 for one course, £29.95 for 2 and £31.95 for three courses. The main Sunday roasts come with crispy duck fat roast potatoes, freshly made Yorkshire puddings, cauliflower cheese and lots of vegetables. They offer chicken breast, beef, pork loin and also butternut squash risotto as a vegetarian option.

 

Finish off your delicious Sunday roast with a traditional and comforting British classic, sticky toffee pudding. Or, try out their blackberry and fig cheesecake complete with cinnamon marmalade, blackberry compote and spiced baby figs.

 

Their menu is also updated and changed regularly.

 

NEST

Image credit: Instagram (@toonfatladies)

Next is Nest, offering indulgent dining in a relaxing and comfortable environment. They specialise in tasting menus throughout the week but offer roast dinners between 12-4pm on Sundays. Two courses are priced at £20 whilst three courses are £25. The restaurant can be found on Chillingham road in Heaton.

 

As well as offering the traditional beef, lamb, and pork Sunday lunches, they also offer different options for those in your group who don’t fancy a roast. These include handmade ricotta tortellini and pan-seared stone bass.

Nest are also renowned for their wine menu, collaborating with an excellent wine supplier, they have lots of interesting wines to enjoy with your Sunday roast.

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Greggs adds customisable pizza and hot Yum Yums to Autumn menu

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Greggs has introduced some new items to the menu perfect to warm you up this Autumn.

The bakery recently launched its Autumn menu which included the return of its popular Pumpkin Spice Lattes, and also saw the Roast Chicken & Stuffing Baguette and Spicy Chicken & Red Pepper Soup make a comeback. Three new vegan options were also added to the menu.

The new pizzas give diners the option to choose three tasty toppings, including chargrill chicken, Mexican chicken, pepperoni, red onion, jalapenos and mixed peppers, on top of Greggs’ famous focaccia base. Described as “the Greggs pizza you know and love, but with a personal touch”, you can buy any pizza and drink for £2.20 after 4pm.

The bakery is putting a new twist on another old favourite too, this time in the dessert department. The iconic doughy Yum Yums are now available to buy hot, paired with milk chocolate or salted caramel dipping sauce.

Greggs has also opened 106 new shops already this year, aiming for an impressive 150 by the end of 2022 as it becomes ever more popular. Now customers can also look forward to new customisable pizzas on the menu as well as hot desserts.

If your mouth is watering at the sound of these new additions, you may want to head to your nearest Greggs to grab yourself a free meal and hot drink this month. The chain announced that it will be giving away freebies to customers who download and sign up to the Greggs app.

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