Poverty and Inequality

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By Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth

Photo of Debbie Abrahams for Oldham Fairness Commission article for GM Poverty Action

Debbie Abrahams MP

In May, on the 49th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Equality Trust published analysis of the CEO pay ratios, gender pay gaps and gender bonus gaps in FTSE 100 companies revealing the ongoing pay inequality across different sectors[1]. It followed on from the ONS reporting in February of the increase in income inequalities in 2018 as measured by the Gini coefficient (it increased from 31.4 to 32.5).  The average income of the poorest fifth of the population after inflation contracted by 1.6% in the last financial year, while the average income of the richest fifth rose by 4.7%.[2] And ‘Fat Cat Friday’ in January exposed that top executives were earning 133 times more than their average worker. The ratio was 47 in 1998.[3]

Last year’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission report showed that the poorest tenth of households will on average lose about 10% of their income by 2022 – equivalent to £1 in every £8 of net income[4]. This reflects other distributional analyses, for example from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Much is also known about inequalities in wealth: the richest 1,000 people in the UK have wealth estimated at £724bn, greater than the wealth of the poorest 40% at £567 billion[5]. This privileged 1,000 saw their income increase by £66bn in one year alone, and £255bn over the last 5 years.

The impact of these inequalities on life expectancy, which is now stalling after decades of growth, has not gone unnoticed[6]. For women, the gap is the largest since the 1920s. For older women life expectancy is actually reversing. The data also indicates that deprived areas, where people on low incomes are most likely to live, also have lower life expectancy rates. The analysis shows that whilst the USA and some European countries are seeing this life expectancy slow down, it is worst in the UK. Interestingly, this doesn’t appear to be a developed country phenomenon as Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark have all seen continuing increases in life expectancy.

This stalling in life expectancy has been picked up the actuaries. PriceWaterhouseCoopers estimates that ‘[a] sharp slowdown in the improvement to life expectancy could wipe £310bn from the pension deficits of thousands of UK companies with final salary schemes’, equivalent to a 15% reduction.[7]

There is also a persistent north–south divide in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, with, for example, people residing in southern regions of England on average living longer and with fewer years in poor health than those living further north. For example, in 2015–17, life expectancy at birth for men was lowest in Blackpool and highest in Hart in Hampshire, with a difference of about nine years. For women, life expectancy was again lowest in Blackpool and highest in East Dorset, with a difference of about six years. Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales all had lower life expectancies than England.[8]

And the poverty that more and more of our children are growing up in is having a devastating effect on them with an increase in child mortality and decline in children’s health as a direct result.[9]

None of this is new. Seminal works such as the Health Divide[10] back in 1987 first highlighted this. The Spirit Level[11] ten years ago showed that in societies and communities where the gaps between the rich and poor are narrow, life expectancy, educational attainment, social mobility, trust and more, increases.  In addition, more equal societies see economic benefits as described by the International Monetary Fund[12]. Fairer, more equal societies benefit everyone.

Wilkinson’s and Pickett’s most recent work, The Inner Level[13], examined how more equal societies reduce stress and improve everyone’s wellbeing, unpicking the evidence of the pathophysiological pathways and mechanisms through which inequalities act to affect our health and wellbeing, physical, mental, emotional and more.

Our health and longevity depend on how and where we are able to live, which in turn depends on our financial means. But on top of this, there is an independent and universal effect that reflects our positions in a hierarchy: our ‘class’, status and relative power[14].

But I believe it is the impacts of these inequalities in power that are worthy of greater exploration and analysis. For example, political power includes the states ‘power to’ do many things on behalf of the general population, but given the falling turnout at elections do our citizens feel this political power vested in our politicians is more about ‘power over’ rather than ‘power with’? How can our political and electoral systems ensure more effective involvement of citizens in political life so that the state is bound to the ‘common good’?

There’s more to be done on inequalities in everyday or practical power too. The powerlessness people experience on a daily basis is immense: struggling to access services to get housing repairs done; being on a zero hours contract and not knowing from one week to the next how many hours you may be working and what your income will be; having your social security claim refused or delayed in a way that dehumanises the claimant; or, being in pain and unable to get the timely treatment you need from the doctor. How much control we feel we have over our lives, our self-efficacy or personal power can in turn have an immense impact on our emotional and physical health as we know from, for example, the Whitehall Studies[15].

I became a politician to tackle these inequalities. I believe we need action at all levels to address them. At a national level, I am hopeful that the recently launched Deaton Inquiry into inequalities will look at the power inequalities I have described, including their inter-relationship between each other. Similarly, the work of the APPG for Health in All Policies which I chair, is currently examining the health impacts of the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Act, particularly on children and disabled people.

At a Greater Manchester level, I am delighted that the GM Mayor, Andy Burnham, will soon be launching a GM Fairness Commission. And in Oldham, as we review the progress from the Oldham Fairness Commission, we will be also looking at how we can work differently across all sectors, tackling the inequalities in practical power too many of our citizens experience.

 

[1] https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/pin-money-fat-cats-pay-inequalities-ftse-100

[2]https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/bulletins/householdincomeinequalityfinancial/yearending2018

[3] https://www.cipd.co.uk/about/media/press/fat-cat-friday-2019

[4] https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/impact-of-tax-and-welfare-reforms-2010-2017-interim-report_0.pdf

[5] https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/wealth-tracker-18

[6] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45096074

[7] https://jech.bmj.com/content/early/2018/02/20/jech-2017-210401.info

[8]  https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/datasets/lifeexpectancyatbirthandatage65bylocalareasuk

[9] https://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2019/05/15/archdischild-2018-316702

[10] Whitehead, M, (1988) The Health Divide. Pelican Books

[11] Wilkinson, R, Pickett, K, (2009) The Spirit Level. Allen Lane/Penguin

[12] http://www.imf.org/external/np/fad/inequality/#4

[13] Wilkinson, R, Pickett, K, (2018) The Inner Level. Allen Lane/Penguin

[14] http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/74737/E89383.pdf

[15] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2213858718301402?via%3Dihub

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NRPF and the Lalley Centre

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No Recourse to Public Funds – the Lalley Centre experience

by Julia Coultan, Community Services Manager, Caritas Salford

Lalley Centre logo for NRPF article for GM Poverty ActionThe Lalley Centre, one of the community projects of the charity Caritas Diocese of Salford, helps people from across North Manchester who are struggling to feed their families and to make ends meet. We provide food support, help and advice to many people . One of the groups of people who come to us for help are those directly affected by the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) legislation, which is not very well known. We wanted to highlight the situation that people subject to NRPF find themselves in, and how hard it is for them to support themselves and their families.

NRPF status was introduced via the 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act, and further widened in 2012. People with NRPF status are not allowed to claim benefits or to seek work. This status can last for up to 10 years, while people negotiate the costly and lengthy immigration processes. Many of these people are families with children, and these children sometimes have British citizenship, but are not given access to basic support such as benefits and free school meals like other children in their position receive. They lose out on these vital lifelines to prevent people falling into poverty, simply due to the NRPF status of their parents.

Some research recently published by The Unity Project, which is based in London and supports people with NRPF status, found that nationally, the NRFP policy disproportionately affects women, and people from BME communities. Our experience in North Manchester certainly bears this out. In 2018/19 – 22% of our Lalley Centre food bank members (36 out of 164 members) had NRPF status.

So far in 2019/20, 16% of our Lalley Centre food bank members had NRPF status. These family groupings consist of 17 women, 7 men, and 35 children. 10 of these families are female single parent households.

All the families are from BME communities.

Julia Coulton, NRPF article for GM Poverty Action

Julia Coulton

The Home Office has recently agreed to review its policy regarding NRPF, but in the meantime its consequences are that children are living in poverty and unable to access the basics like a hot meal and adequate clothing.

You can read the full Unity Project report, “Access Denied: The cost of the ‘no recourse to public funds’ policy” here

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Food Power Conference

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Reflections on the 2019 Food Power conference

By Rebecca St. Clair and Megan Blake

Last month, Food Power, an initiative that helps local communities and alliances work collaboratively to reduce food poverty, held their second annual conference in Newcastle. We went to represent the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance, and as it so closely followed the launch of the GM Food Poverty Action Plan, the conference provided the ideal opportunity for us to hear from groups at a more advanced stage of action plan implementation, and to share our experiences with those just beginning on the journey of forming alliances or partnerships.

The event kicked-off on the Tuesday evening with a get-together at Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. The venue reflected an integral theme of the conference, around sharing experiences, learning from one another and telling stories. The Men’s Pie Club, a project that brings people together to cook while combatting social isolation and mental and physical health problems, provided delicious pies for everyone. After our meal, we heard about the Darwen Gets Hangry campaign and Edgelands, a film made by young people, about young people and food poverty.

Wednesday was structured around a series of parallel workshops and key themes from our perspective included:

  • Local knowledge and a place-based approach
  • Action plans and advocacy informed by research and collaboration
  • Inclusivity

In a workshop discussing the role of networks and national programmes, questions raised included:  Can national campaigns effectively support experts in localities while being aware of local sensitivities and avoiding the duplication of efforts? How can national programmes ensure they communicate with all the relevant local people/community groups, particularly when landscapes shift so frequently? Conversely, where can local groups go to find out about national campaigns? It seems that there is a need for easily accessible information about national and local initiatives and while the Sustainable Food Cities website details numerous campaigns and food partnerships, the lists are by no means an exhaustive. As Kath Dalmeny of Sustain observed, navigating networks and activities can be a messy process, but this often seems unavoidable.

In a workshop on the development of alliances and action plans, Moray Foodbank spoke about their food poverty action plan and the research carried out to support its development. During focus groups and interviews, the group learnt that people experiencing food poverty were often exposed to judgemental attitudes from professional service providers and it became clear there is still a desperate need to remove the stigma around food poverty. As a result, Moray included this as the top priority of their action plan. Others seeking guidance on framing conversations about food poverty may find the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Project Twist a useful point of reference.

Regarding the need for partnerships and alliances to be inclusive, ideas raised included varying the location of meetings to give everyone the best chance of attending; identifying common aims and ensuring participation is mutually beneficial; recruiting experts by experience first (Oxford used this approach and reported that it has worked well).

Rebecca St Clair Food power confernece article for GM Poverty Action

Rebecca St. Clair

One workshop focused on the Healthy Start voucher scheme, designed to support families with young children and pregnant mothers on low incomes to buy fruit, vegetables and milk. The vouchers, which must be signed-off by health professionals, are allocated per child/per week and distributed on a monthly basis. Currently only 64% of eligible households claim their vouchers, so Food Power is working to raise awareness and increase uptake. Sustain’s Healthy Start toolkit outlines actions that can be taken on a range of levels.

Megan Blake Food power article for GM Poverty Action

Megan Blake

The conference gave us a real sense of the pride that Newcastle has in its history, its reputation for hospitality and community spirit and its food heritage. As with many areas, Newcastle has suffered sustained cuts to local services and witnessed the all-too-familiar trends of more people accessing food banks, finding themselves at the mercy of precarious employment, low wages and a weakened welfare system. A message that featured throughout the event was that while organisations and individuals are rightly proud of their communities coming together and supporting those most in need, they are simultaneously outraged by the very existence of food poverty. Clearly, local action should take place alongside campaigns for national-scale structural adjustments and longer-term planning to ensure the continuation of place-based forms of support that help to restore and strengthen our communities.

 

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Unlimited Potential: Living Wage Champion Awards

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Unlimited Potential wins ‘Against All Odds industry’ award for dedication to real Living Wage

At the national Living Wage Champion Awards, Salford-based Unlimited Potential was recognised for its role in leading the way and demonstrating that not only is paying the Living Wage possible in low-paid industries but that by doing business differently, they can change the industry for the better.

Awarded the ‘Against All Odds Industry’ Champion Award for its dedication to spreading the real Living Wage in health and care in Salford, Unlimited Potential  is also tackling the challenge of outsourced and sub-contracted services by promoting the real Living Wage within procurement.  This is the second national Living Wage Champion award that Unlimited Potential has received, having won the Industry Leadership Award in 2018.

Unlimited Potential 2019 LW award for GM Poverty Action

Robert Stephenson-Padron (Penrose Care), Chris Dabbs, Marcia Powell, (Unlimited Potential) Martin Lewis (MoneySavingExpert.com)

Chris Dabbs, Chief Executive, said: “We are very proud to have been given this award and to pay the real Living Wage. Paying the real Living Wage is simply the right thing to do and we really hope that other local employers follow our lead. We are aiming to spread the real Living Wage in health and care across Greater Manchester.”

The real Living Wage is currently £9.00 per hour across the UK (£10.55 in London). Unlike the government’s ‘National Living Wage’ it is independently calculated based on the cost of living. There are over 5,400 Living Wage employers in the UK including 27 in Salford, of whom 11 are in health and care.

“We are pleased that almost every main health and care organisation in Salford is an accredited Living Wage employer” continued Chris. “We were especially pleased that Aspire, a social care provider in Salford, also won a Living Wage Champion Award this year for going Beyond the Living Wage.”

Katherine Chapman, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “The last year has been particularly successful for the Living Wage Foundation as we’ve seen through the 5,000th Living Wage accreditation. Our awards are an opportunity to recognise the fantastic businesses who continue to recognise the importance of a wage that truly covers the cost of living, and the value this provides for workers and their families, as well as businesses.”

For more information about Unlimited Potential please visit their website

In total there were five Living Wage Champions from Greater Manchester – an exceptionally strong showing from our city region. Congratulations from GMPA and the GM Living Wage Campaign to our partners Trafford Housing Trust, GM Citizens, Facilicom, Unlimited Potential, and Aspire.

 

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Food Ladders

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A multi-scaled approach to everyday food security and community resilience
by Dr Megan Blake, University of Sheffield

Dr. Megan Blake is a member of Reference Group for GMPA’s Food Poverty Alliance. The Alliance  recommends place-based approaches to tackling food poverty, to complement city-regional and national action, and the following approach can be used to frame and inform those localised approaches.

Finding innovative interventions for building food secure communities

Food Ladders is a novel, evidenced-based approach for creating household and community resilience by building on the capacity of food to bring people together. Food Ladders is not like existing household food insecurity approaches that focus on the lack of good food within households that then feed that gap. Instead, Food Ladders activates food and its related practices to reduce local vulnerability to food insecurity and its knock-on effects.

Specifically, Food Ladders advocates for:
– Mobilising the more than nutrient, calorie and commercial aspects of food, such as its capacity to bring people together to foster shared understanding and collaboration;
– Creating safe and inclusive spaces for experimentation and interaction with food;
– Using a positive language of empowerment around food;
– Building place-specific levels of support that enable the recognition and enhancement of locally based skills and assets to create transformations in communities.

What is the Food Ladders approach?

Food Ladders are community scale interventions aimed at building local level resilience in the face of food insecurity. The approach was developed for low-income communities to address the wider effects that poverty has on health, wellbeing, and community cohesion. However, all communities can benefit from Food Ladders. The approach is not intended to replace national level campaigns, but instead complements those campaigns and may even foster activism. Food Ladders works with the specific characteristics of places to enable three levels of intervention These include:

Catching.  This first rung provides a starting point for those who are in crisis.  Such interventions might include emergency food aid, mental health support, access to social services, etc. Catching enables the ability to cope with a shock, whether that be the loss of a job, an unexpected large payment, debt, longer-term illness or relationship breakdown.

Capacity building to enable change.  This second rung supports those not currently in crisis, but who may be struggling to afford and/or access good food.  Activities include training programmes, shared cooking and eating activities, food pantries, children’s holiday clubs, and voucher schemes. Done in a manner that celebrates difference and is not stigmatising, activities provide residents with accessible choices that relieve the stresses that co-exist with low-incomes, expand skills, and enable the recognition of personal and local assets. These interventions connect people together by creating networks of trust and reciprocity through shared activity around food. This sort of intervention enables people and communities to be more adaptable by expanding what they can bring to the table to make change.

Self-organised community change.  This third rung supports communities to realise goals through self-organised projects that capitalise on what is good in communities. Projects meet community needs as residents identify them. Examples include developing a social enterprise based on community cooking knowledge that provides employment, community story-telling that leads to activism, cooperative food growing and food procurement that increases the local availability of good food, regular social cooking and eating activities to overcome loneliness, cross social divides and create intergenerational knowledge transfer.

What can Local Authorities, Community Organisations, Food Alliances and others do to support local Food Ladders?

There is a lot that these different types of organisations can do to support and build Food Ladders, including undertaking mapping, reflective reviews and evaluations of existing practices. There is a longer description of Food Ladders with pointers for how different types of organisations can start building food ladders in their area.

The research behind the Food Ladders approach:

Megan Blake Food article for GM Poverty Action

Megan Blake

Food Ladders was developed through a series of interdisciplinary research projects funded by the ESRC, MRC, and The N8 AgriFood Programme, involving local authorities, food industry actors, national charities and community organisations across the UK, which enabled a better understanding of what is working in communities and where different levels of resources and challenges are situated. A special mention goes to Gary Stott (Community Shop and Incredible Edible) and Samantha Siddall (ECO), Rupert Suckling (Doncaster Metropolitan Council), and the teams at Greater Manchester Poverty Action and FareShareUK.

If you would like to know more about Food Ladders please contact: Dr. Megan Blake, or Twitter: @GeoFoodieOrg. Megan is also an organiser of the Just Food Futures conference in July.

 

 

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MCC and the Living Wage

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Manchester City Council sets out its ambition to be an accredited Living Wage Employer

The Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign launched in 2013, and within months a supporter of the campaign, who was also a councillor, proposed a resolution for Manchester City Council to pay at least the Real Living Wage. The Campaign played an active role in the Task & Finish Group that followed, and the Council resolved to also attempt to roll out the Living Wage to the Council’s contracted workers.

One of our first successes was therefore with Manchester City Council, resulting in a pay rise for over a thousand workers. However, the Council was reticent at the time to make this a public long-term commitment by becoming accredited with the Living Wage Foundation. So while we celebrated the success and the resulting increases in take-home pay, we maintained that the job was incomplete.

Accreditation is the best platform from which to engage other employers and encourage them to implement the Real Living Wage. It commits employers to making a clear plan for the rollout of the Real Living Wage to their contracted and sub-contracted workers, and enables the Living Wage Foundation to support the employer to do so. Accredited by an independent organisation, it gives employers the right to use the Living Wage kite mark and to promote their credentials as a Living Wage Employer.

The Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign affirms the importance of accreditation, and has a vision of a Living Wage City Region in which all councils and other major employers accredit, and take action to bring other employers on board. We have raised this consistently in several subsequent meetings with the Council.

Tom Skinner editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, GMPA Director

For this reason we are delighted to share that Manchester City Council has set out its ambition to be an accredited Living Wage Employer. They join Oldham in making this announcement, and seek to join Salford as fully accredited Living Wage Employers. We will support these Councils with this process, and call on the remaining seven GM join to join them as accredited Living Wage Employers.

If you would like to join us in action on the Real Living Wage but are not yet signed up to receive updates directly from the Campaign please email: livingwage@gmpovertyaction.org  with ‘Sign Up’ in the subject line.

 

 

 

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Manchester Poverty Truth Commission

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You are cordially invited to the  Launch of Manchester Poverty Truth Commission
at the Comedy Store, 3 and 4, Arches, Deansgate Locks, Whitworth Street West, Manchester M1 5LH on Thursday, June 27, 2019 from 11.00am to 1.45pm

Poverty is no laughing matter

‘Nothing About Us Without Us is For Us.’

Sponsored by Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council and Dr Ruth Bromley, Chair, Manchester Health and Care Commissioning

The Poverty Truth Commission is a unique process is based on the conviction that we cannot hope to understand, let alone address, the causes and symptoms of poverty unless we involve the experts. In this context, the experts are those who have a direct experience of poverty; living with the reality day in and day out.

The approach is founded on the belief real progress towards overcoming poverty will be made when those who experience poverty are central to the development, delivery and evaluation of solutions. Unlike many other Commission processes, a key to its success is recruiting both commissioners with direct experience of poverty and commissioners in positions of influence locally and enabling them to have the opportunity to enter into real dialogue on the issues which come up.

The launch will include hearing from some of the 15 ‘grassroots’ members of the Commission, and an introduction to the 15 civic and business leaders who will join them as members of the Commission for the next 15 months.

Come prepared to hear some challenging and inspiring truths about poverty in Manchester.

To find out more about the Poverty Truth Commission ethos and approach, watch a short video produced by Leeds Poverty Truth Commission on the booking page.

Book here

The Manchester Poverty Truth Commission is hosted by Church Action on Poverty, sponsored by Councillor Sue Murphy, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council and Dr Ruth Bromley, Chair of Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, and funded by Manchester Health and Care Commissioning, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Seedbed, Cheetham Hill Advice Centre and others.  However, the Commission itself it is being run independently and delivered by a team of freelance facilitators.

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A society divided by poverty

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By Ivan Lewis MP

The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated recently,

“I reject the idea that there are vast numbers of people facing dire poverty in this country. I don’t accept the UN rapporteur’s report at all. I think that’s a nonsense. Look around you; that’s not what we see in this country.”

In the context of poverty, we sadly do not live in one society, one nation or even one city region, we are deeply divided. A society where the world of work and social networks increasingly means people on different levels of income have little or no contact. This is socially regressive.

One of the great virtues of the best Children’s Centres are that they bring together parents of all social classes. This is mutually beneficial for the children but also for adult relationships and community cohesion. However, the cuts to early years provision and the absence of a meaningful child poverty strategy undermine any efforts to break the cycle of Intergenerational poverty which blights too many families.

The impact of austerity has fallen disproportionately on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Women, ethnic minorities, children, single parents, asylum seekers and people with disabilities have suffered the most.

Since 2010, the Government has made more than £30billion in cuts to welfare, housing and social payments. Social and living standards have not improved and for too many have worsened since the global economic crash of 2008.

Every day we see the impact of the breakdown of much of our social fabric in the form of people sleeping rough on our streets. It is hard to celebrate the growth exemplified by the cranes in the skies of our major cities when down below too many people are huddled in doorways and under archways seeking shelter and sanctuary.

The Child Poverty Action Group has stated that an additional 300,000 children will be living in poverty by the time universal credit has been fully implemented in 2023-2024. The two-child policy is not compatible with our national commitment towards children. We owe a duty of care to all children, not just the first two, to enable families to foster healthy environments in which they can flourish.

Our social security system is intended to function as a safety net to support and assist people through situations such as low-pay, sickness, long term disability and unemployment. Instead, too often it has become a source of despair and misery with the most vulnerable in society beholden to the seemingly arbitrary rules which dictate how much universal credit one is entitled too.

A new Prime Minister will rightly be expected to resolve the Brexit stalemate. But alongside this, he or she must recognise the economic and social imperative to reduce levels of poverty which help to fuel (division) in our fractured society. The stark division in our country between Remainers and Leavers is corrosive. But so are levels of poverty which consign too many of our fellow citizens to poor life chances and a poor quality of life. It is a human tragedy for those trapped in this cycle of despair, but it is also undermining our economy in a world where human capital is at a premium.

This is in our country, all around us, and it isn’t right.

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Healthy Start vouchers

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Thousands of women and children miss out on healthy food scheme in 2018
Press release issued by Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming

Charities and health groups have warned Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock that low-income women and children in over 130,000 households are missing out on £28.6m of free fruit, vegetables and milk due to poor promotion of the Healthy Start voucher scheme. Of this, £4 million would have gone to families in the North West, a huge blow to the budgets of those who need it most.

The coalition of 26 charities and health bodies includes Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, the Royal Society for Public Health, Royal College of Midwives and the Trussell Trust. They called on the Government to boost promotion of the Healthy Start voucher scheme, which can be worth up to £900 per child over the first four years of life.

The vouchers adds at least £3.10 to a family shop per child each week and over the first four years of a child’s life this is equivalent to 1,090 pints of milk, 1,100 apples, 218kg of carrots and 143kg of peas.

Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive, Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, said “The Government is missing a trick. This money has been set aside to support low income and young families, but the Healthy Start voucher scheme for fruit, vegetables and milk is not being properly managed or promoted. Over 4 million children are living in households who sometimes run out of money for essentials such as food – these vouchers can help keep good food on the table.”

Shirley Cramer, CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, said “Having access to nutritious food required for healthy development is a right of every child. We know that healthy food is three times more expensive than unhealthy food; the scheme can help those at the greatest disadvantage in the most deprived areas.”

However in 2018, pregnant women and children missed out on an estimated £28.6 million worth of vouchers in England and Wales, representing a missed opportunity by government to help families afford to heed their young families and also to encourage healthy eating habits that could have lifelong benefits.

An open letter calls on the Government to fund a programme to ensure that midwives, health visitors, GPs and other relevant staff in health, social care and early years settings actively help all eligible pregnant women and new parents claim their Heathy Start vouchers. They suggest that this programme could be funded from the estimated £28.6 million of Healthy Start vouchers that went unclaimed last year.

The letter also asks the Government to confirm the date for a consultation on Healthy Start, which was committed to by the Department of Health and Social Care last June in Chapter 2 of Childhood Obesity: a plan for action.

Sustain logo - healthy start vouchers article for GM Poverty ActionThe Sustain food and farming alliance, which coordinated the open letter, is also encouraging people to write to their MP about Healthy Start to make sure all children have access to fresh fruit and vegetables for a healthy start in life.

Average take-up of the vouchers in England and Wales was only 64% in 2018, or
approximately 135,000 households missing out, with no government funds dedicated to supporting local health service providers to promote the scheme. A map of current take-up rates in England and Wales is publicly available and updated monthly by the Department of Health.

 

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Kellogg’s double breakfast club grants

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In March Kellogg’s pledged to support the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance in several ways, including increased their support for breakfast clubs across the city region. Now they have published a report showing the scale of hunger in the classroom, and committed more resources across the country. This is part of an expansion of their corporate responsibility work and impact, Kellogg’s Better Days, which seeks to address the interconnected issues of food security, climate and wellbeing.

One in nine children missing six hours of learning each week through hunger in the classroom

One in nine children goes to school with an empty tummy and the effect of this is a loss of education.

Research by Kellogg’s, with 4,000 children and 950 teachers suggests that the impact of hunger in the classroom is huge with children losing six hours of learning each week. if they arrive at school hungry.  That’s the equivalent of three weeks of learning time each term.

A fifth of teachers say that a hungry child takes up too much of their time and two thirds (67%) claim they are unable to learn. Children agree it impacts their education with half of breakfast skippers saying they can’t concentrate in the morning.

Older children are even more likely to start the day without anything to eat, with one in six secondary schoolchildren not having breakfast and girls are the worst culprits for skipping breakfast before school, especially in high schools with nearly a fifth not eating in the morning.

For those children at schools in areas of high deprivation a third said they noticed a child at their school was hungry and gave them some of their food to eat.

Breakfast clubs Kelloggs for GM Poverty Action
But, one in seven teachers warn that recent changes in school funding have negatively impacted their breakfast club provision. It’s important these clubs continue to run as the benefit of them is proven with a third of teachers saying that pupils who attend a breakfast club are keen and ready to learn.

Peter Cansell, National Association Primary Education said: “It’s shocking that in 2019 there are still nearly 800,000 children starting the school day on an empty tummy. This is leading to a shortfall in critical learning time.

“This research even shows that those children that eat breakfast are happier, probably because they have the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy the school day. The benefits of pre-school clubs are proven, they ensure that children go into the classroom with the ability to concentrate.”

For those that are eating in the morning there has been an increase in older children having their breakfast on the go, grabbing it on the way to school and more children are eating continental breakfast foods with twice as many starting the day with pancakes and croissants.

Today, Kellogg’s – a long standing supporter of Breakfast Clubs –  announced it is doubling the number of grants it offers school breakfast clubs to support one in four schools in the poorest parts of the UK.

Oli Morton, Kellogg’s managing director said: “We believe every child should have the best start to their day and our latest study shows the importance of a good breakfast and that too many children are still going to school without the vital fuel that they need to help them learn”.

“This shows that the work that we and our partners carry out, as part of our Breakfast Club programme, is as important as ever. That’s why today we will be doubling our commitment to breakfast clubs in 2019 to reach the most vulnerable parts of the country as they play a vital role in giving a child the best start to their day.”

Schools can apply to join the Kellogg’s Breakfast Club network by emailing breakfastclubuk@kellogg.com

 

i3oz9sKellogg’s double breakfast club grants
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