UK

HIV And Poverty 'Hand In Hand' Due To Cuts, Charity Warns

23/02/2014 16:32 GMT | Updated 23/02/2014 16:59 GMT
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
File photo dated 18/09/12 of money as London should have a higher national minimum wage because of rising living costs and growing in-work poverty, a new report has argued.

A charity has pointed the finger at government cuts for the "cycle of poverty" facing people with HIV.

The Terrence Higgins Trust it was a "disgrace" that HIV and poverty went hand in hand in the 21st century.

It said there had been a 15% rise in the number of people seeking financial help for basic living costs.

One in every 40 people diagnosed with the virus applied for a hardship fund of up to £250, a report found.

Terrence Higgins Trust boss Paul Ward described the figures, which come more than 15 years after modern anti-retroviral medication transformed HIV into a manageable condition, as "nothing short of a disgrace".

He said: "We know that factors such as illness, discrimination, uncertain immigration status, mental health issues and family breakdown, can leave people with HIV needing extra support at certain points in their lives.

"But all too often our grants are only able to tide people over from day to day, rather than supporting them out of poverty.

"The numbers in this report should act as a warning sign at all levels of government that people with HIV are not receiving the level of support needed to meet the most basic of costs.

"It is vital that people with HIV are fairly assessed and that financial support is sufficient to allow them to eat, clothe themselves and stay warm, and ultimately regain long-term financial security."

According to an analysis of nearly 2,000 applications made in 2012, 46% of applicants to the hardship fund had a disposable income of less than £50 a week and 35% had no disposable income at all.

The majority of grants were used to cover basic costs, including food (47%) and clothing (10%), the charity found.

Between 2012 and 2013 there was a 63% increase in applicants whose benefits had stopped altogether (from 43 to 70 applications) and an 86% increase in those whose benefits were under review (from 69 to 128 applications).

The number of people who received more than one grant per year rose by 42% (from 305 to 433).

The Terrence Higgins Trust called for national and local government to respond by:

Ensuring those who need support are fairly assessed and that benefits are sufficient to cover basic costs.

Holding a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into the impact of welfare reforms.

Making sure that people are supported to find sustainable employment suitable for their long-term health and well-being.

Aiming to complete the asylum process within six months and allow people to work after 30 days.

Assessing needs of people living with HIV in their areas and provide adequate services.