GMPA’s work in light of the Coronavirus outbreak

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We are living through one of the biggest global health crises of the last 100 years. There is not a single person unaffected by the threat of Coronavirus infection and the measures that have been put in place to keep the virus at bay.

This will be a particularly challenging time for people experiencing poverty, and those at risk of falling into poverty as many of the support services they rely on come under strain and have to adapt to growing levels of need.

At Greater Manchester Poverty Action we are looking to support local authorities and other stakeholders in the city region with responses to the virus, ensuring poverty is taken into account so that people on low incomes are supported as much as possible. We are part of the core team for Greater Manchester’s food response, which is working to support coordinated action on food across GM during the crisis.

Like many organisations, much of our normal work will progress at a slower pace, and all pre-arranged meetings including the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign group have either been postponed or moved to online conference calls. We will endeavour to maintain our regular newsletter, with the next edition after Easter on April 22nd (copy deadline April 15th) and as such we would welcome any articles and links to useful resources that we can include. Please let us have information about your own organisation’s response or situation but especially any positive stories or successes that we can share and that we all need to read at this very difficult time. We have also created a page on our website to help keep people up to date with the work that we are doing and to link through to up to date information and advice.

As we are only a small team with limited resources and capacity, we may not be as responsive to enquiries about other aspects of our work at this time. Additionally, it may not be possible to keep other parts of our website as up to date as we usually would over the coming months. We will do our best.

The government have stepped in with several measures to help people on low incomes and those who face a drop in income. There is more that will need to be done, and we will be supporting national campaigns and policy changes including through the End Child Poverty Coalition and End Hunger UK, to help add our voice to calls to increase support for people facing hardship.

Many thanks to all the people who have completed the two surveys we have been running. The results from the food providers survey have been sent through to a range of stakeholders, including the Combined Authority and the ten local authorities. We are also linking up with the VCSE infrastructure organisations so that they can make best use of the information being gathered.

Please take every possible care and thank you for all that you are doing,

Tom, Graham, John and Chris

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Food Poverty Action Plan Year 1

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Year 1 of the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan

By Tom Skinner

GMFPA logo cropped for GM Poverty AllianceIt is a year since we launched the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Action Plan with 150 people and organisations who had co-produced the Action Plan in our Food Poverty Alliance project. This article reviews the first year of progress towards the Plan’s vision, that “everyone in Greater Manchester enjoys good food and a better standard of living, and they look out for each other.”

Through the Food Poverty Alliance, 50 individuals and organisations have made over 100 pledges of action towards the Action Plan’s vision, including:

  • Apex Storage making five storage units available for individuals and businesses to donate unwanted cooking
    and gardening equipment
    that Cracking Good Food pass on to communities in need;
  • Kellogg’s reaching 70 local schools with breakfast club grants;
  • Sow the City mapping food provision in North Manchester – they have recently been commissioned to map in
    South Manchester as well, and aim to support mapping across GM;
  • The Salford Food Share Network supporting other boroughs to consider the potential for partnerships between
    food banks, food clubs and pantries, advice agencies, the council and other stakeholders;
  • Several Housing associations, councils and charities coordinating provision of food with activities for children
    and young people during school holidays.

We are working closely with most councils across GM, as well as GM Mayor Andy Burnham, the GM Combined Authority and the Health & Social Care Partnership, to discuss actions that can be taken by the public sector at the GM and borough level. For example, Tameside has:

  • established a strategic food partnership with food poverty as one of its themes;
  • included questions about food poverty in its public consultation survey and commissioned qualitative research
    to help understand how food poverty impacts residents, and the challenges for food banks and food pantries;
  • taken action (which is ongoing) to increase uptake of Healthy Start vouchers.

Another important activity has been to embed food poverty, and the Action Plan specifically, in the wider efforts to develop a comprehensive food strategy for the city region. These efforts are being led by GM’s strategic food board Good Food Greater Manchester, of which GMPA is a member. We are currently exploring how efforts to tackle food poverty can complement other sections of the food strategy, and are supporting a series of workshops to develop a cohesive and widely supported strategy.

Since the launch of the Action Plan, GMPA has seen encouraging increased interest in tackling poverty at a local level. Some local authorities are developing and implementing anti-poverty strategies, and there is significant interest in engaging people with lived experience of poverty in decision making e.g. through poverty truth commissions. We continue to campaign for employers across the city region to tackle in-work poverty by becoming accredited Living Wage Employers and signing up to the GM Good Employment Charter. There are now over 200 accredited Living Wage Employers based here, including Salford, Oldham and Manchester councils – see page 2 for more news from the GM Living Wage Campaign, another GMPA project.

Tom Skinner editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, Director, GM Poverty Action

While I am delighted with the progress made in the first year of the Action Plan, there is much more to be done and GMPA remains committed to tackling food poverty and its underlying causes.

Tom Skinner,
Director, GM Poverty Action


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Tackling poverty: NHS

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Help us to inform the way the NHS tackles poverty

On March 27th, our director Graham Whitham will be attending a workshop at the King’s Fund in London exploring what more the NHS can do to tackle poverty. The workshop will bring together a diverse group of stakeholders with knowledge, expertise and experience of working with those in poverty, people from the NHS, and those who work in partnership with it.

The NHS Long-Term Plan sets out important commitments to reducing inequalities in health.  As part of this NHS England and Improvement want to do more to understand and maximise the NHS’ role in tackling poverty. This builds on previous work, including the King’s Fund report, Tackling poverty: Making more of the NHS in England, which set out how the NHS can tackle the risk of, and mitigate the impact of poverty in many ways, from its treatment impact to its role as an economic giant in every community.

This workshop will help inform:

  • the development of practical resources for local NHS leaders and institutions
  • strengthening the strategic case for the NHS to see tackling poverty as a core issue
  • supporting the NHS to work more closely with partners on poverty, with ultimate impacts in improving the
    health of those in, or at risk of, poverty

The King’s Fund will co-host this workshop with the Equality and Health Inequalities Team at NHS England and

GMPA is keen to support this work, and we know there is a lot of learning from work in Greater Manchester that could help inform the conversation. With the publication of the recent Marmot: Ten years on report, it is vital that we make stronger links between health and poverty.

In order to contribute as much as we can to the workshop we are asking people in our network to share information with us in advance. Graham will feed this into the discussion on March 27th, crediting organisations and individuals where appropriate.

Graham W NHS tackling poverty article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham
Director of GMPA

Please share any good examples of current or recent case studies, reports or wider work where the NHS has tackled poverty successfully with partners in Greater Manchester. If you have a report/project site/short description of the work you are doing that you would be willing to share, please email Graham  by Friday March 20th.


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Talking about poverty

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Using our voices to build a movement for change

JRF have provided the following write up on the Talking about Poverty event held in Manchester on February 11th, 2020

Across the North, communities and organisations are working tirelessly to make life better for people in poverty, whether that’s by providing services directly or campaigning for policy change. Many of them came together at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF’s) conference in Manchester, Talking about poverty: using our voices to build a movement for change – in partnership with GMPA, Church Action on Poverty and the FrameWorks Institute – to find out how they could influence local and national conversations about poverty using framing.

Talking about poverty doodle for GM Poverty ActionPublic attitudes really matter when it comes to real action and change for people in poverty. That’s why the stories we tell about poverty are so important – the words and images we use can improve people’s understanding of how poverty works and what can be done about it. This is called framing. It’s about consciously choosing a set of tested techniques that can change people’s hearts and minds, based on research with 20,000 members of the public.

At the event, part of which was attended by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, delegates had the chance to learn new skills, deepen their knowledge of framing, find out how it’s being used by JRF’s experts, and hear from people with direct experience of poverty on how they’re using framing to tell their stories in the media. The conference brought together 130 delegates, ranging from grassroot activists, campaigners and communicators to local councils and public affairs specialists, each working on an issue, root cause or consequence of poverty in the North of England.

It’s vital to build a movement calling for action on UK poverty if we want to see real change, and this conference was one step towards bringing us all together as a collective voice.

You can see reactions and highlights from the event at #TalkingAboutPoverty on Twitter.  If you want to know more about how to use framing in your work, you can download JRF’s free toolkit or email JRF directly


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Mayoral election 2020

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Mayoral election represents an opportunity to push tackling poverty up the agenda

By Graham Whitham

Poverty is a growing problem in our city region with over 600,000 residents living in poverty. Greater Manchester is home to some of the UK’s most deprived neighbourhoods. Poverty and economic inequality in Greater Manchester results in widely varying health, education and economic outcomes for the city region’s residents. Poverty damages the lives of the people it effects, both in the here and now and in the long-term. High levels of poverty act as a drag on Greater Manchester, hindering the economic potential of the area and putting pressure on public services. Poverty, therefore, is everybody’s business.

Ahead of the Greater Manchester Mayoral election on Thursday May 7th, 2020, GMPA is calling on candidates to commit to tackling poverty in Greater Manchester. The Mayor can play an important role in this agenda, both through direct powers and by working with local authorities and key partners to implement innovative and consistent approaches to tackling poverty across the city region. Central to this agenda will be creating a strategic framework that ensures tackling poverty is a priority for the Mayor. Our asks set out what this framework should include. In some instances, it may be appropriate for the mayor to seek the devolution of further powers from central government in order to maximise the impact of local efforts to tackle poverty.

GMPA is calling for a number of measures, including:

•  The creation of a strategic framework for tackling poverty by

·Appointing a portfolio lead for poverty

· Introducing a socio-economic duty

·Embedding a focus on poverty in the refreshed GM Strategy.

•   A reduction in food poverty, with a strong focus on ensuring no child goes hungry.

•  The embedding of working with people with lived experience of poverty across all relevant areas of decision making.

•  A focus on the poverty premium that builds on GMPA’s research to better understand the nature of the
poverty premium in Greater Manchester and the establishment of  an incubator scheme for start-ups seeking
to tackle the poverty premium

•  Work to maximise the positive impact social security provision can have on tackling poverty in Greater
Manchester. This could include a GM wide benefit take-up campaign and the devolution of elements of the
welfare system so that we can do more to tackle poverty locally.

As we approach the election in May, we will be setting out further detail of the things we need to see happen across a range of policy areas including:

Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham
Director of GMPA

•  Housing and homelessness

•  Creating an inclusive economy

•  In-work poverty

•  The poverty premium, and Social security.

We will be inviting external experts to write about these issues in greater detail in future editions of the newsletter.

With a huge amount happening across Greater Manchester to redouble efforts to tackle poverty, including the introduction of local poverty strategies, the mayoral election represents an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen anti-poverty efforts across the city region.



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Training Opportunities

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Training opportunities on poverty

GMPA is working in partnership with Policy North Training to provide training to organisations working to address poverty across the city region and the rest of the UK. We aim to support organisations to better understand some of the complexities around poverty and enable them to improve policy and practice as a result. Courses currently open to bookings are:

Our Maximising support for people on low incomes course will run on February 28th, April 28th and October 8th, 2020. This course is for VCSE and public sector organisations who work with people experiencing poverty and who wish to understand how to maximise support for their service users and those involved in service design and delivery. To book your place on this course click here.

The extremely popular Understanding poverty measurement, definitions and data course will run on March 12th and November 18th, 2020. This course is for organisations who wish to strengthen the case for their work by presenting accurate and relevant data about poverty to funders, supporters and policy and decision makers. To book your place on this course click here.

Our Exploring the Poverty Premium course is running on March 18th, 2020. Attendees on this half day course will be able to better understand the poverty premium, the way it affects customers, clients and consumers and how they can amend and ‘poverty proof’ their practices. To book your place on this course click here.

We aim to keep the cost of attending courses low, whilst looking to grow and develop our training offer and raise revenue for GMPA’s activities. All courses take place in central Manchester unless otherwise stated.


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More financial support is needed for young adults struggling with debt

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By Colin Gallagher, United Utilities

Financial management is an ongoing challenge for most people, but worryingly, far too few under 25s are seeking advice when they fall into debt, a new survey has revealed.

This is the feedback United Utilities heard from the money advice community across the region who attended its Affordability Summit at St George’s Hall in Liverpool.

The event – opened by Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool – attracted debt advice charities, food banks, Credit Unions, Housing Associations and financial services to look at what more can be done to help young adults who are struggling with their finances, as well as continuing to support other people who are struggling with their bills.

Louise Beardmore, customer services and people director at United Utilities, said: “The survey showed that many young people are starting to build up debts soon after they turn 18 and very few seek expert advice on how to manage debt and borrowing.

“We’re currently helping more than 100,000 customers through our financial support schemes and since the last summit in January 2019 we have helped 13,000 people out of debt with their water charges but like others we want to do more. This includes having the right support for those under-25, building up debt now and worrying about money in their first few years of adult life.”

Iona Bain: Financial support for young adults aticle for GM Poverty Action

Iona Bain

Iona Bain, an independent financial writer, speaker, broadcaster and founder of the award-winning Young Money Blog also attended the event to emphasise how organisations could better target and engage young people on money management. She said: “Today, young people are thinking much more about their relationship with money. I have seen an explosion of financial apps, websites and books aimed at my generation since I started my blog 8 years ago. But as well as creating confusion, these resources do not always have younger people’s interests at heart, nor do they really solve the huge problem of financial inclusion.

“Responsible educators need to find a way to cut through the noise and offer balanced, independent and trustworthy advice so we can help those facing a financial crossroads. It’s by no means a given that young people who are starting work or higher education have to sink into intractable debt or start missing crucial bills.”

Louise added: “This is the third Affordability event we have organised. From our point of view, if customers, whatever age, are struggling with water bills, they are likely to be struggling to pay most of their household bills. It can be difficult for a single organisation to make a widespread difference and we believe that a collaborative regional partnership can go way beyond what any one organisation could do alone. We can learn from each other and look for other opportunities.”

Information on all the financial assistance which United Utilities can provide with water bills can be found here.

If you provide debt advice to people struggling with their household bills, please register for the Hardship Hub.  The Hub contains information on more than 500 support schemes provided by 300 organisations.


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UK Poverty 2019/20

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Latest JRF report shows the scale of the poverty problem

By Graham Whitham

UK Poverty 2019/20 is the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s annual landmark report on levels of poverty in the UK. It highlights the growing problem of in-work poverty, with over half of working age adults and three in ten children in poverty living in a household where at least one person is in work. The report shows that disabled people, single parents and people living in certain parts of the country are at greater risk of poverty.

In the UK, 14 million people are living below the poverty. Whilst progress was made in reducing poverty among certain groups (single parent families, children and pensioners) in the noughties, the JRF argue that progress is now beginning to unravel. Even poverty among pensioners, a group who’ve largely been protected from social security cuts, is starting to go up.

The report identifies the following policy solutions to help address poverty across the country:

  • “We need as many people as possible to be in good jobs. While the proportion of people in employment has risen consistently for six years, weak local economies in some parts of the country have led to higher unemployment, underemployment and more low pay than in the UK as a whole. This needs to change, with prospects for people in struggling places needing to be prioritised, or progress will stall. In addition, employment among disabled people and carers is still low, and they should be supported to work when they can.”
  • “We need to improve earnings for low-income working families, helping people in the lowest-paid jobs or working part-time. Too many people are stuck in low-paid, insecure jobs, with little chance of progression and too few hours of work to reach a decent living standard. Workers need more security, better training and opportunities to progress, particularly in part-time jobs. In-work poverty must be seen as a critical issue for our economy and given high priority by economic policy-makers.”
  • “We need to strengthen the benefits system so that it provides the anchor that people need in tough times.The current system needs to be improved to ensure it gives adequate support. We also need the system to offer a better service for people using it, and to shift public thinking so that a poverty-fighting social security system is seen as an essential public service and receives sustainable investment.”
  • “We need to increase the amount of low-cost housing available for families on low incomes and increase support for people with high housing costs. We also need to address the sense of insecurity felt by many people living in the private rented sector.”
Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham
Director of GMPA

In Greater Manchester, as in other parts of England, we may feel we have limited powers to address poverty. However, the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign (hosted by GMPA), the Mayor’s Good Employment Charter and public sector commissioning that places a strong emphasis on social value can help improve the quality of work in the city region. We can begin to think more imaginatively and be more ambitious in the way we use what powers we do have over the benefits system. This means strengthening Council Tax Support and local welfare assistance schemes, and calling for the devolution of more parts of the social security system where that allows us to do more to address poverty locally. Whilst the JRF report doesn’t acknowledge the role of localities in addressing poverty, we at GMPA know there is no shortage of opportunities for stakeholders in Greater Manchester to address poverty if we’re given the power and resources to do so.



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Policy toolkit

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Launch of policy toolkit: poverty and inequality reduction policies

Irene Bucelli, Abigail McKnight and Kate Summers

A new online policy toolkit provides a systematic, wide-ranging and accessible assessment of a variety of policies with a potential ‘double dividend’: policies that could lead to reductions in both poverty and inequality.

toolkit: cASE and JRF for GM Poverty ActionThe selection of policies has been informed by a larger research programme, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which has explored the relationship between inequalities and poverty. This research not only identified a positive empirical relationship between poverty and inequality it also reviewed evidence on potential mechanisms that might drive this relationship. To find out more about the statistical relationship and the mechanisms you can read the Overview Report, or download the working papers from the project page.

The policy toolkit can be accessed online or a pdf of the toolkit can be accessed here.

Who is it for?
The toolkit has been designed to be a useful aid to anyone interested in policies which reduce poverty and inequality and in particular policies with the potential to have a ‘double dividend’. It has been created with a wide audience in mind, including practitioners, policy-makers, academics and students.

What will it tell me?
The toolkit presents policy options, not recommendations. It analyses policies in terms of their relationship to poverty and inequality, public and political support, type and level of intervention, evidence of effectiveness and cost to government

How do I use it?
The policies presented in this toolkit are organised in relation to the mechanisms identified in this project as well as by policy area and type of intervention. In total seven mechanisms were identified:

• Political economy and public awareness;
• Resource constraints;
• Spatial disparities;
• Housing;
• Life-cycle and intergenerational mechanisms;
• Crime and the legal system;
• Labour market mechanisms.

Each section of the toolkit examines a selection of policies in relation to drivers within each mechanism. Overall
assessments are presented in short summary tables which also provide access to the more detailed information behind each summary.

You may like to also check out our article on JRF’s UK Poverty 2019/20 report which includes a series of suggested policy solutions to help address poverty across the country.


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Job opportunity: Facilitator

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Vacancy: Tameside Poverty Truth Commission Facilitator

We are recruiting a facilitator for the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission.

Poverty Truth Commissions (PTCs) create a space to meaningfully bring together people with different experiences, knowledge, and power: Within this space, people who have had experience of living in poverty come together with senior civic, political and business leaders on an equal footing. They have the power to create positive change around poverty and inequality. Greater Manchester Poverty Action aims to launch the Tameside Poverty Truth Commission at the start of 2021.

The term of this contract is for the start-up stage of the Commission: this facilitator will be the first of a team of three, with the others to join the team when the necessary funding is secured. The role of this facilitator in the first year will be to recruit commissioners, facilitate meetings in preparation for the launch of the Commission, and seek sufficient funds to complete the team and launch the Commission.

Please download the job description and person specification, and send the application form, with your C.V., to by 10am on Friday February 28th, 2020.


Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA) is a not-for-profit organisation that works to address poverty across Greater Manchester. Our vision is of a Greater Manchester free from poverty where all residents can realise their potential and access the benefits of living in a diverse and vibrant city region.

For more information about Greater Manchester Poverty Action please visit our About us page.  Other projects include the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance and the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign.

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