New child poverty figures

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New local child poverty figures show worrying rises in poorest parts of the UK
By Graham Whitham

Today the End Child Poverty coalition launched updated local child poverty figures. With around three in ten children living in relative poverty in the UK, the local figures allow us to understand what those numbers mean at a local authority, parliamentary constituency and ward level. Not surprisingly there are huge variations across the country. Worryingly the figures show that child poverty is rising particularly rapidly in the most disadvantaged parts of major cities, especially London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester.Child poverty figures for GM Poverty Action

We are used to seeing figures that show Greater Manchester is home to some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation in the country. These figures show that in some wards in our city region more than 50% of children are living below the poverty line.

The figures also details huge variations within Greater Manchester. A staggering 62% of children are living below the poverty line in Werneth in Oldham, compared to 13.4% in Worsley in Salford.Child Poverty nfographic for GM Poverty Action

There are also major variations within individual boroughs. The ward with the highest level of child poverty in Bolton is Great Lever, with a child poverty rate of 55%. The ward with the lowest rate in the same borough is Bromley Cross at 18.5%. Despite these variations, all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester are home to thousands of children living in poverty. The main figures are detailed at the end of this article.

The increases in child poverty seen across the UK in recent years are largely the result of cuts to working age benefits. Parents have seen the value of tax credits, Child Benefit and other support cut in recent years. The figures also underline how seemingly positive employment figures – low unemployment and record employment levels – aren’t translating into reductions in poverty and improved living standards. Too many people are trapped in low paying jobs or unable to get sufficient hours to work their way out of poverty.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond recently hinted at another significant increase in the minimum wage. This would be welcome but must sit alongside reversals in cuts to benefits and measures that increase in-work progression.

Alongside launching the local child poverty figures, End Child Poverty is calling on the Government to set out an ambitious and credible child poverty-reduction strategy, including:

  • Restoring the link between benefits (including housing support) and inflation, and then making up for the loss in the real value in children’s benefits as a result of the 4-year freeze and previous sub-inflation increases in benefit rates.
  • Ending the two-child limit on child allowances in tax credits and universal credit and reforming Universal Credit;
  • Reversing the cuts and investing in children’s services such as mental health, education, childcare and social care.
Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham

As a member of End Child Poverty, Greater Manchester Poverty Action these calls.  We would also like to see the Government provide more support for local stakeholders to tackle poverty in their area. A national poverty strategy could help create a framework and provide guidance for local authorities and their partners to address child poverty  locally.

Mapping of anti-poverty strategies in 209 top-tier local authority areas in England and Wales by GMPA in 2018 found that 31 of the 209 have a child or family poverty strategy in place (for example Manchester) and a further 80 incorporate a focus on child and family poverty within a broader strategy (for example Salford) or set of strategies (for example Wigan). Whilst many local areas are pushing ahead with their own strategic approaches, the lack of poverty strategies in many areas highlights the need for greater leadership on this issue by central government.


Key findings*

ECP table 1 2019 for GM Poverty ActionECP Table 2.1 for GM Poverty Action

*Please note the figures we have shown here are for poverty after housing costs (AHC) are taken into account.

End Child Poverty have also published before housing costs (BHC) figures. The data for each Ward, Constituency and Local Authority is available in full at  http://www.endchildpoverty.org.uk/poverty-in-your-area-2019/

 

 

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GM Food Poverty Alliance Survey

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Survey to help shape future work of the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance

We are working to bring in funding to employ a new coordinator for the GM Food Poverty Alliance, who will drive forward implementation of the Food Poverty Action Plan (launched on March 4th, 2019).

Before they begin, we are planning how best to coordinate the Alliance over the next 3 years. We therefore want to understand the impact so far, and to know how the Alliance can support members in achieving our shared ambition of reducing and preventing food poverty.

If you have been involved in the Food Poverty Alliance so far, we would like to know:

  • Your priorities for the Alliance and the Action Plan
  • What you/your organisation will be able to contribute to the Alliance
  • What help and support you would like from the Alliance.

Please could you complete this short on-line survey  – it should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes.  Your answers will be extremely helpful in making sure that together we do all we can to turn the Action Plan into Action.

The survey will be open until May 30th, 2019. Survey responses will be used to inform the work of the Alliance and will be kept confidential.  We may publish a summary of the survey results, but no individual or organisation will be identifiable (unless you provide a quote in the final question, in which case this may appear in reports). Wherever applicable, please answer the survey on behalf of your organisation, rather than as an individual.

 

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GMLWC New Campaign Coordinator

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Recruiting a new Campaign Coordinator

Our Campaign Coordinator Vicky Egerton, who was working for the campaign part-time, has started a full-time job so has had to step back from the Living Wage Campaign role. We want to thank Vicky for her work on the campaign, particularly last year’s Living Wage Week when she secured an important meeting with the Co-operative Group, and the development of a strategy for engaging local authorities.

We are therefore recruiting a new part-time coordinator. Please share this vacancy with anyone who you think might be interested.

This is a crucial time for the campaign. GMPA’s work in other areas, such as on food poverty, is opening new doors to talk about a raft of anti-poverty measures with major local employers, including the Real Living Wage, so the new role will be more integrated into our wider anti-poverty work than ever before. There is scope to build up the campaign group and empower activists to go out and advocate for the Real Living Wage in their own places and organisations. We also want to start planning events and actions for an inspiring and impactful Living Wage Week.

The role is 2 days/week for the next six months, with a possible extension, or even development into a full-time role if the project is broadened out to focus on a wider range of good employment issues, and we want the Coordinator to work with us to explore those possibilities.

The deadline for applications is 10am on Friday May 24th, 2019, and interviews will take place on Monday June 3rd and the morning of Tuesday June 4th.

Please read the job description, download the application form, consider applying, and share this exciting opportunity through your networks.

 

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Prosperity for all?

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Prosperity for all? Getting poverty onto the agenda in discussions of city-region policy
By Ceri Hughes, IGAU, University of Manchester

Discussion of what we can do to tackle poverty has largely disappeared from the national policy agenda but it continues to affect people across Greater Manchester. How can the city-region respond to the challenge?

At last month’s conference – From Poverty to Prosperity for All (organised jointly by GMPA, IGAU and JRF) – we brought together over 90 people from Greater Manchester and beyond to explore what could be done to improve the lives of the estimated 620,000 people in poverty across the city-region. Could we make reducing poverty central to discussions about both economic and social policies? What could this achieve? And what would have to change to achieve this?

A broader “anti-poverty” strategy

Moving from ‘grow now, redistribute later’ to a more ‘inclusive economy’ approach could help to address poverty, as we explore in the Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit’s new paper. Inclusive growth policies have the potential to reduce or prevent poverty by targeting some of the poverty risk factors – including by improving job security, tackling low pay, or prioritising investment in quality foundational services. This is significant given that the majority of people in poverty are of working-age: for many in this group, jobs – getting and keeping one, getting a better one, balancing work with other commitments and good health – are likely to be a concern.

But we cannot assume that these kinds of policies will have an impact on people in poverty. Re-designing jobs in the social care and retail sectors, or introducing a good employment charter for businesses across Greater Manchester could benefit people in poverty, but those links are not straightforward and need to be forged from the outset. This partly comes down to a question of policy design: are initiatives explicitly aiming to engage and benefit people from a range of backgrounds, including those on lower incomes? Have policymakers (and employers, voluntary sector organisations etc) thought about the barriers that people might face? These aren’t new questions, but they remain a weak spot in design. Tackling poverty may not always be a priority but we need to know when it is, and why other things might take precedence for a while.

Bringing poverty into view at city-region level

How could we raise the profile of poverty at city-region level and build stronger links between areas? There is already a lot going on in local communities across the region. Several local authorities still conduct analysis of the causes and nature of poverty, and have maintained and updated child and family poverty strategies. But poverty also needs to be considered at city-region level, where key policies are increasingly being discussed.

Prosperity for all Ceri Hughes for GM Poverty Action

Ceri Hughes

Currently, none of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s leaders are responsible for tackling poverty, and there are no explicit targets to reduce poverty. GMPA’s Food Poverty Alliance recently called for a poverty lead to be appointed to the Combined Authority, as well as in each of the ten councils. Assessing the impact that policies could have on low income residents could also be made a routine part of the policy development and scrutiny process at local and city-region level. These are just a few of the ideas discussed at the conference and shared again here in the hope that they will lead to further conversations and action in coming months.

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Rise in Child Poverty

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Latest government data shows a worrying rise in child poverty
By Graham Whitham

At the end of last month the government released the latest UK poverty statistics. The child poverty figures gained the most attention with the data showing a rise in the number of children living in deep or ‘severe’ poverty. This means that of the 4.1 million children in relative poverty, 2.8 million are in ‘severe’ poverty. There are 3.7 million children in poverty under the alternative absolute poverty measure.

Whilst pensioner poverty has remained low over recent year, there are signs that this is also starting to increase. The graph below shows how the poverty rate varies for different household types:UK Poverty Rates April 2019 for GM Poverty Action

Many readers will be aware of the rise in in-work poverty in recent years. An incredible 70% of children living in poverty are now in households where at least one adult is in work. Whilst children in households where no one is in work are still at greater risk of poverty, the rise of in-work poverty is a sign that employment is not an effective route out of poverty for many families.

The figures also showed a rise in inequality, with the incomes of the rich growing at a faster rate than those on lower incomes.

Some are projecting that the child poverty rate will reach a record 37% by 2022, breaking the record high of 34% set in the early 90s, unless action is taken. In response to the figures being published, End Child Poverty (ECP) called on all the major political parties to develop an ambitious and coherent child poverty reduction strategy ahead of the next General Election. ECP also wants to see an end to the benefit freeze and a full reversal of the two-child limit in his November budget.

Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham, Director of GMPA

GMPA is a member of End Child Poverty and supports these calls. We are highly concerned about the impact of ongoing welfare cuts in Greater Manchester, where an estimated 620,000 residents are living in poverty.

ECP logo for GM Poverty Action

 

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Taking Action on Food Poverty

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Greater Manchester Takes Action Together on Food Poverty

In the month since we launched the Food Poverty Action Plan, we have been meeting leaders, businesses, and charities to ask what they will do to make the plan a reality. The response has been very positive, with over 30 organisations covering most of Greater Manchester’s boroughs, making more than 70 pledges of action and funding. The pledges will be published when the new Food Poverty Alliance coordinator is in post, so far they include:

  • Salford City Council and the Salford Food Share Network pledging to better coordinate and strengthen food
    support services across the city, while giving advice to other localised food support networks
  • Wigan Council influencing education providers to teach good food on a tight budget, rolling out a nutrition and hydration training programme with Domiciliary Care Staff, and many other pledges
  • Kellogg’s supporting 100 school breakfast clubs in Greater Manchester with cash grants totalling £100,000,
    helping to feed at least 5000 children
  • The Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford contributing £2,500 towards the cost of employing a Food Poverty Alliance coordinator
  • Many smaller organisations pledging to take action however they can, such as setting up food pantries, becoming accrediting Real Living Wage employers, and developing toolkits to help people and organisations tackle food poverty where they are, such as author Danielle Lowy from Chorlton Plant Swap who is writing “Nifty Thrifty Vegetable Gardening: Tips for growing your own food without costing the earth”

These pledges show Greater Manchester’s resolve to take action on hunger, and more than that, it shows an understanding that through coordinated strategic action we can start to address the underlying causes and ultimately work to eradicate food poverty in our city region.

We are also working to raise funds for a full-time coordinator, so would welcome pledges of financial support such as that made by Salford Diocese. The coordinator will:

  • drive forward the recommendations in the Action Plan at the Greater Manchester level
  • work in-depth in some neighbourhoods to pilot place-based approaches to tackling food poverty
  • keep the Alliance working together and bringing out the best in Greater Manchester’s response to food poverty
Tom for GMFPA article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, Director of GMPA

Can you pledge to take action on food poverty by starting to implement one or more of the actions in the Plan? Please email food@gmpovertyaction.org with PLEDGE in the subject line

 

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National Living Wage

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National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

HMRC wishes to raise awareness of the new rates of pay that will come into force when the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increase on 1 April 2019 to ensure that all employers are at least paying their staff the legal minimum.

A website to assist employers is available and employers and employees can contact Acas for advice and support on a wide range of employment rights and responsibilities (or call 0300 123 1100 from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm but check your call costs first as they vary from 3p to 40p per minute).

HMRC also want to encourage low-paid workers to come forward to make sure they are getting the wages they are legally entitled to. They are looking to raise worker’s awareness of their entitlement and asking them to report any under-payments for HMRC to investigate if necessary.

HMRC believe that many people who are paid the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage still lose out on their full entitlement because of a series of common errors made by their employers. Workers often don’t realise that they are being short-changed and that it’s possible for them to get back the money they are owed.

The new rates of pay per hour after 1 April 2019 will be:

For Apprentices in their first year or under 19:      £3.90
For employees under 18:                                           £4.35
For employees aged 18 – 20:                                    £6.15
For employees aged 21 – 24:                                    £7.70
For employees 25 and over:                                      £8.21

Comment from GMPA, “Under-payment of the minimum wage is a major issue of in-work poverty, particularly exploiting workers from marginalised groups. We fully support HMRC in encouraging low-paid workers to come forward to make sure they are not being underpaid. However we take issue with the description of the minimum wage as a “National Living Wage”, which is misleading and confusing for employers and the wider public and does not reflect what is needed to achieve a decent standard of living. 

The real Living Wage is an hourly rate independently calculated to be enough for a decent minimum standard of living. That rate is £9/hr outside London, a new rate is calculated and announced every November in Living Wage Week, and we encourage employers to voluntarily commit to paying all of their staff that rate, and to become accredited as Living Wage Employers. Almost 150 employers across Greater Manchester have been accredited as Living Wage Employers, including Salford City Council, the GM Chamber of Commerce, and many businesses and charities. 

The so-called National Living Wage is a re-brand of the minimum wage, but it is not a living wage as it is not based on the cost of living. It could also be argued that it is not truly national as it does not apply to people under the age of 25. This distinction is important because both the minimum wage and the real Living Wage are valuable tools in the bid to end in-work poverty, and should not be allowed to confuse or to distract from each other. Please see the Living Wage Foundation’s explanation for further information.

 

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GMPA Training

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Training courses – book now!

We have three more training courses scheduled for the remainder of 2019. The next one is our one day ‘Understanding poverty data’ course on Thursday June 5th.

This course is for organisations and individuals who wish to strengthen the case for their work by presenting accurate and relevant data about poverty to funders, supporters and policy makers. It is suitable for researcher, third, public and private sector organisations.

The multitude of data and reports about poverty that are out there can make accessing the right data difficult. The contentious nature of poverty makes it particularly important to understand how poverty is measured and which figures are the most appropriate to use. By the end of this one-day course participants will have developed an understanding of what key poverty datasets tell us, how best to access data sources and how to use this knowledge to support the work that they do.

It is the third time we have run this course. Please book now to secure your place as the course was fully booked when we ran it in September 2018 and March 2019. Feedback from the course has been really positive with comments including:

“A complex and in-depth subject was covered in an interesting and informative manner”

“Great work – learnt loads”

“Good balance of presentation and group discussion”

Later in the year we will be running our ‘Exploring the Poverty Premium’ (September 11th) and ‘Risk of poverty among different groups’ (November 6th) courses.

About Exploring the Poverty Premium: Low income consumers in the UK face several disadvantages in the marketplace – known as the poverty premium. This course supports service providers, businesses and policy-makers to identify changes in policy and practice that can help mitigate the impact of the poverty premium, minimising the risk of debt and financial hardship among people on low incomes. This half day course will run on Wednesday September 11th.

About Risk of poverty among different groups: This course looks at trends in poverty in the UK among different groups. It is designed for organisations seeking to strengthen the case for existing projects or develop new projects aimed at tackling and preventing poverty and will also be of interest to researchers and policymakers seeking to develop a better understanding of poverty in the UK. Next available date is Wednesday November 6th.

Further information and booking forms for all these courses are available on our website

We have discounted rates for students, third/VCSE sector and public sector attendees.

All courses take place at Church House on Deansgate in the city centre, just a short walk from Manchester Victoria and from Exchange Square Metrolink station.

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Great British Debt Trap

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We were recently contacted by Stephen Pennells from the Jubilee Debt Campaign and we invited him to write for the newsletter to tell us more.

Ending the Great British Debt Trap
By Stephen Pennells, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Manchester

There are many causes of household poverty but one of them is the debt trap that faces people who don’t have the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ or savings to fall back on and find themselves forced to borrow at the most expensive rates when a crisis occurs.   This leads to another crisis.    Decent and dependable work, credit unions, and responsible debt counselling are needed, but so also are structural changes.

Although Wonga is in administration, they still take payments, while others eagerly pick up their business. Moreover, regulation of credit cards, overdrafts, doorstep lending, rent-to-own and other businesses remains light, both in terms of interest rates and conditions.

People who can’t shop around may pay considerably more for goods when they buy from BrightHouse or are lured by the perceived prospect of savings, into opening interest-charging accounts with high street stores.

Jubilee Debt Campaign, campaigning with others in the ‘End the Debt Trap Campaign’, demands an end to predatory and exploitative lending, a write-off of personal debt due to irresponsible lending and deep structural economic injustice, and changes in economic policy so that people don’t need to rely on borrowing to make ends meet.

Several Manchester councillors and local MPs (Andrew Gwynne, Mike Kane, Afzal Khan and Jeff Smith) have supported the campaign, as has the Dean of Manchester.

We’re calling on the Chancellor to end rip-off lending by capping interest rates and charges for loans, credit cards, overdrafts, rent-to-own and doorstep lending; and set out how the goverment plans to help families who are stuck in the debt trap.

JDC is a small NGO with a dedicated but overworked staff in London.  To change mindsets and break the chains of domestic debt snaring over 18% of Greater Mancunians, the campaign needs you not only to sign, but also to take it to family and friends, workmates, union and party meetings, religious congregations and community centers.  You can join on our website

Politicians and leaders need to be encouraged to raise their voices and reminded to keep on doing so.   JDC will gladly provide materials such as cards and petition forms or help with this and can be contacted by email or on 0207 324 4722.

 

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Salford Building in Warmth

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by Aneaka Kellay, Carbon Co-op

Carbon Co-op launched a video to coincide with Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2019, showcasing Salford Building In Warmth, a partnership project with charity National Energy Action (NEA), Helping Hands and Salford Council that brings together energy experts, local handy people and neighbours to tackle fuel poverty.

With effects on health, education and employability, fuel poverty affects a growing number of people, with a staggering 15% of households in the Broughton area of Salford classified as fuel poor (figures taken from the Salford City Council – Affordable Warmth, Strategic Action Plan – 2018/2021).

As part of Salford Building In Warmth, Carbon Co-op bought in Energy Consultant Diane Hubbard to conduct airtightness testing on four energy champions’ homes, highlighting the coldest, most draughty areas. The tests enabled local property maintenance and repairs service Helping Hands to make targeted and affordable improvements to homes with follow up airtightness tests used to investigate quality and impact.

Megan, one of the Energy Champions said “Having those problems resolved, it’s a lot cosier. I’ve told almost everyone I’ve met because it’s been so exciting, I feel quite evangelical about the benefits, just getting small things done makes a difference

Diane Hubbard, Energy Consultant, Green Footsteps said “It is vital that those undertaking energy efficiency home improvements for vulnerable householders are trained to undertake work to the highest standard. Without this training they not only risk their work not achieving the results they want, but more importantly they can put those living in homes at risk. It’s great to see community initiatives in Salford doing things differently.”

As Aneaka Kellay, Carbon Co-op said “It’s been great to work with Helping Hands, Diane Hubbard and the Community Champions in Salford. We’ve shown that by bringing communities and expertise together, we can make a difference.”

Rebecca Long Bailey MP said “I’m very pleased to see the initiatives Carbon Co-op, other Salford social enterprises and community energy groups are taking to find ways to tackle this real issue, and give people safer and warmer homes .”

Read more about Salford Building In Warmth  here

 

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