GMPA

Scams Awareness

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Scams Awareness Month

by Ali Craythorne

June marks Scams Awareness Month, an annual Citizens Advice campaign where we raise awareness of how to spot, avoid and report scams. Citizens Advice Manchester we will be working in partnership with Trading Standards, campaigning in the community and delivering a number of training sessions to help the public to become scam-aware.

According to the Local Government Association fraud is currently the most common form of crime. In 2017, there were 3.6 million cases reported in England and Wales, which equated to around £10 billion lost in this area alone. This is likely to be much higher as an astonishing 95% of scams go unreported.

Due to the economic climate and accessibility of information, scammers are targeting people more than ever. The breadth and range of this type of crime is huge. Action Fraud identifies over 100 different types of fraud and this figure will grow as techniques evolve and become more sophisticated.

Scams pose a real risk to financial security, and many victims get into debt and experience poverty as a result of being scammed. At Citizens Advice we receive over 3,000 contacts (face to face, email, webchat, telephone) every quarter from people who have been targeted by scams. We also receive reports from people that are unable to pay for essentials such as utilities and food as a consequence of being scammed. Some of the most common types include emails and texts purporting to be from banks and financial agencies aiming to extract passwords and login details. We see lots of fake lottery and inheritance emails that require you to pay fees before your windfall is ‘released’; fake adverts and look alike websites offering non existent ‘designer goods’ at bargain prices; and rogue traders who systematically target the most vulnerable people in society with bogus and often unnecessary repairs. Most worryingly, we now receive reports that people are receiving calls claiming to come from Citizens Advice and trying to take bank details, supposedly to resolve a financial  issue.

Craythorne CAB scams article for GM Poverty Action

Ali Craythorne

Scammers succeed because they prey on human needs and desires. They are designed to provoke an emotional response whether this be fear, excitement, lust or greed. Whilst anyone can be a victim of a scam, research conducted by Citizens Advice in 2017 indicates that older people, people with lower levels of education and those on low incomes are less likely to recognise a scam. In 2007, Trading Standards warned that there were approximately 300,000 people held on ‘scam lists’ in the UK and that they expected this to rise to 1 million by 2019.

If you suspect you may be the victim of a scam, we would always advise that you report this to Action Fraud, or call our Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 if you need further support.

If you would like to attend our training on how to become more scam aware please book on this link

Barry is an elderly man with chronic health problems. A scammer knocked on his door explaining that Barry’s roof needed urgent repairs. The scammer charged him £2,000 for the repairs and never returned. Barry emptied his bank account and borrowed £500 from a friend. He was left unable to pay his utility bills and has now got into arrears.

 

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GM Food Poverty Alliance

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The Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance is off to a Great Start!

GMPA were delighted to launch the Food Poverty Alliance at a packed Methodist Central Hall last week. Individuals with their own experiences of food poverty and representatives from councils, charities and businesses, all came together with one aim – fighting food poverty in Greater Manchester.

Bishop John Arnold for GM Food Poverty Alliance for GM Poverty Action

Bishop John Arnold

Bishop John Arnold who will chair one of the alliance’s groups, said, “Food poverty is a scandal that reflects on all of us. Working together we can make a difference to Greater Manchester.” He went on to thank all those already involved in making a difference but added that a city region like Greater Manchester should not need to have over 170 food banks.

The aim of the alliance in the first year is to co-produce a Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester that will aim to:

• Reduce and prevent food poverty

• Support communities to plan and adapt to the challenge of food poverty

• Address structural issues that underlie food poverty, such as the benefits system and precarious and low-paid employment

The launch event was based around group discussions, encouraging everyone to play their part in developing the Action Plan. The first group discussion discussed a set of principles that should guide the way we work together.

Full room at GM Food Poverty Alliance launch for GM Poverty ActionWe broke up into seven groups for the second set of workshops, based on different aspects or themes of food poverty, and discussed what the Action Plan should aim to do for Greater Manchester on each theme. Our starting question was, “If all of Greater Manchester were to get behind the work of the Food Poverty Alliance, what could we achieve?” The aims that have emerged from those discussions are as ambitious as we hoped, and come from a real understanding of the issues, the challenges and the possible solutions.

JO Wilson at GMFPA for GM Poverty Action

Jo Wilson, Co-production and Policy Officer at the GM Mayor’s Office, compered the event

We were also due to hear from local writer and campaigner Charlotte Hughes on her own experience of food poverty, but she was unable to attend, so we have featured her story on page three of this newsletter as part of our Beyond Poverty series.

Tom Skinner at the GMFPA launch for GM Poverty Action

Greater Manchester Poverty Action Director, Tom Skinner

To have gathered so many people, and to have a hall so full of energy, passion and great ideas, was a perfect way to start this work together. The Driver Group (see next page) will now develop a brief for each themed sub-group based on their discussions at the event, and then each sub-group will continue meeting to develop a Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester, which will be launched early next year.

Please read on to see how you can get involved.

Back on Track at the Food Poverty Alliance launch for GM Poverty Action

Back on Track serves up a tasty lunch

We were grateful to FareShare and Back on Track for providing the catering for the launch.  Back on Track did a magnificent job providing a tasty meal and snacks for a wide variety of diets.  Thanks!

Food Power logo for GMFPA article for GM Poverty Action

 

 

Join the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance

You can still join GMPA’s Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance – just email Tom

If you are interested in one of the sub-groups, please also indicate that in the sign-up email so you can be added to the list for that group. There are nine groups – the Driver Group, the Reference Group and seven themed sub-groups:

GM Food Poverty Alliance diagram for GM Poverty Action

  1. Place-based access to food, looking at areas of Greater Manchester that do not have healthy and affordable food options
  2. Children experiencing food poverty
  3. Causes of food poverty, looking at underlying structural and economic issues such as universal credit and low-paid or
    precarious jobs
  4. Food banks and beyond, looking at how we can better coordinate, develop best practice models for, and explore different models of food aid and social food provision
  5. Measuring and monitoring food poverty
  6. Skills and training for people in poverty, looking at issues such as health, budgeting, and cooking
  7. Diversity Scrutiny Group, which will advise the other sub-groups to make sure the Action Plan addresses food poverty for everyone

 

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Charlotte’s Story

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Charlotte, a domestic abuse survivor and anti-poverty campaigner, talks about the impact of national policies on the lives of people in poverty.

Beyond Poverty: Charlotte's Story for GM Poverty ActionCharlotte is in her forties and has four children. “I was born and bred in Ashton”, she says, “my Dad was an engineer, he worked at a factory in Oldham, and Mum stayed at home to look after us. When Thatcher got elected, Dad’s factory got shut down, and he had to go and sign on at the Labour exchange on Scotland Street. I remember the queues were massive. When Dad lost his job, it put the family into poverty. We had holes in our shoes, and the family couldn’t afford much. They hid a lot of it from us as kids. But it wasn’t as bad as now. At least then we had a sense community.”

Charlotte became a nursery nurse and started a family in her 20s. “But it was such a bad relationship. He was violent, beat me up. I spent over a year in a woman’s refuge, and then was moved several times, because he kept finding me. He started taking drugs after we met, and it sent him crazy. He nearly killed me twice. I met another man later on, and he became violent too when I got pregnant. I had to go back to women’s shelters, taking my family with me. It was a nightmare. There were no staff on at night, and people were shrieking, and hitting others. We had to lock ourselves in the room, the children were crying. I couldn’t work at this time, what with everything I was going through and two young babies”, says Charlotte. “Tony Blair brought in child tax credits, which was great, I could provide for my young babies. Life wasn’t a struggle then. I knew I wouldn’t have to look for work until my children were older, too.”

But things got worse for Charlotte with changes to the benefit system. “Governments slowly took that safety net away, little tweaks. The first thing they touched was us single parents. The money went down slowly, we had less and less each week. It’s horrendous now. Poverty is being deprived of the basics other people take for granted. Putting your heating on. Buying clothes. I eat once a day – I skip my meals to feed the kids. When my youngest daughter is not at home, the heating doesn’t go on, I can’t afford it.” Charlotte has £80 a week after she’s paid her rent, much of which is needed to cover bills.

Beyond Poverty: Charlotte's Story for GM Poverty ActionCharlotte feels especially strongly about benefit sanctions. “There should not be punishment, there should be guidance. In the old days you were given lots of chances, guidance and courses. You weren’t sanctioned unless you just went in and said ‘I’ve done nothing’. It was a very last resort, they would try everything with you before that. Now, if your face fits, they will try it on. It’s not a last resort any more, it’s a first resort. People don’t often get the sanction letter. Your money just stops and people can’t cope and just end it – we know people who have come out of the job centre and committed suicide.”

Charlotte sees these issues all around her community in Ashton, and spends a lot of her time supporting people who suffer as a result. She writes a blog, “the Poor Side of Life”, and organises a weekly protest outside Ashton Jobcentre, challenging sanctions, and informing people of their rights – so they can empower themselves, to prevent sanctions, or if they do get a sanction, to know what to do afterwards. “People think you’re loaded when you do the stuff I do. People ask me for money. But I’m in the same position as them.”

 

Interview carried out by Peter Cruickshank for Greater Manchester Poverty Action’s Beyond Poverty report 

 

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Working Wardrobe

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Working Wardrobe, funded by Bolton at Home, is being set up to tackle another barrier into employment that so many men and women face today. That barrier is the lack of suitable clothing to wear in order to make a good first impression at an interview.

Working Wardrobe want to give those people the best possible chance of making the right first impression and of being successful in getting that job.

Working Wardrobe for GM POverty Action

Members of the Working Wardrobe team: Tony Cottam, Carrie Riley, Dawn Juson, Linda Jones

Their offer is a one to one appointment in Bolton town centre, choosing an outfit and accessories.  The customer will be given this outfit to keep at no cost to them and they will also get final interview preparation advice. If they are successful at the interview then they can return to the store for additional clothing and critically in-work support for as long as they need it. This is so important as making the transition from benefits to work is often a difficult and troublesome period. They will be assigned their own officer who will help with any issues that may prevent the client sustaining that employment – this support will be tailored to their needs.

 

Working Wardrobe for GM Poverty ActionWorking Wardrobe believe this to be a unique selling point for this project. They will have already built up a good relationship with the customer through the first dressing visit. Trust and engagement will have already been established therefore making it more likely that this support will be well received and successful.

Working Wardrobe will be available to all of working age across Greater Manchester.  They now have to complete furnishing and stocking the store with interview type clothing and accessories and they will be looking to the community and local businesses to support this project.

It is a life changing concept. It’s more than providing an outfit. It’s about changing the mind set and empowering every individual who walks through the door. Working on their strengths and motivating each customer to be the best that they can be.

Working Wardrobe have recently launched a crowd fund appeal. Please do take a look and support them where you can.

They will be open for business on Monday June 18th, 2018. For more information please visit their website

 

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Beyond Poverty

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 Launch of GMPA’s Beyond Poverty Report

At Greater Manchester Poverty Action we are committed to strengthening the voices of people in poverty. People who have lived experience of poverty are sometimes referred to as experts by experience, rightly recognising the potential that they have to bring about real change for themselves, for their communities, and for wider society. Sharing people’s stories is important for raising their voices and helping them to be heard, and for developing everyone’s understanding of poverty.

The reasons why poverty exists in Greater Manchester, and in the UK as a whole, are well understood; high living costs, a housing market that is incapable of meeting everyone’s needs, a broken social security system that fails to provide a sufficient safety net, and an economy that relies too heavily on insecure and low paying work in order to function are all among the structural factors that result in people experiencing poverty and hardship.

However, the reasons why one person experiences poverty and one person doesn’t, and why some people are at greater risk of poverty are complex and multifaceted. Policy and practice needs to be designed in a way that responds to these complexities and challenges. To do so the voices of people with lived experience of poverty must be heard, and furthermore they must be involved in re-designing policy and practice.

We are therefore pleased to announce the launch of GMPA’s Beyond Poverty report, which will be serialised in this newsletter over the next few months. The report will share the stories of people from across Greater Manchester who are either currently experiencing poverty or who have experienced poverty in recent years, describing the experience, the causes and the effects of poverty. We don’t offer detailed commentary alongside the case studies, we want the voices of these experts by experience to speak for themselves. When all the articles have been published we will print them as a single report – please let us know in advance if you would like a copy.

We start in this edition with David’s story that describes being out of work due to illness and disability, and shows the importance of a supportive and effective welfare system for those unable to work.

We want to take the opportunity to thank everyone whose story you will read in the coming months, who have showed great courage and understanding in coming forward and telling their stories, as well as Peter Cruickshank for having conducted the interviews with such sensitivity and dedication.

David’s story

Charlotte’s story

Penny’s story

Sarah’s story

Darryl’s story

Going beyond the Beyond Poverty report, sharing stories is important, but it is only the beginning. Poverty can only be addressed when those who experience it first-hand are involved in the process of identifying problems and working on solutions. We are therefore also inviting experts by experience to co-chair each sub-group of the Food Poverty Alliance. In so doing, we aim to co-produce a Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester with a deep understanding of the causes, effects and experience of food poverty.

Tom Skinner and Graham Whitham, Directors, and Chris Bagley, Communications Manager of Greater Manchester Poverty Action

 

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David’s Story

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An army veteran and former labourer, David’s injury prevented him working. His story shows the importance of a supportive and effective welfare system for those unable to work.

David Beyond Poverty for GM Poverty ActionBorn in Blackburn, David joined the army after school and served in Lebanon. After returning to civilian life, David did manual work, “All kinds of labouring, heavy duty jobs like loading wagons and the demolition of buildings”. He had enough money to live on, and was happy. David’s face lights up when he talks of Jean, his wife. They met in their 30s, and were married within a year.

Then in 1998 David had an accident, falling down the stairs at home. It left him with serious back and leg injuries, unable to work. David had spent 20 years “paying in”. He received Incapacity Benefit to support him while he recovered. However, his back injury was not easy to treat and he suffered from   depression. A terrible throat infection then stole David’s voice, and he has not talked since – for 10 years he has communicated by typing on a computer. Everything became overwhelming, and David would only leave the house for doctor appointments. He became very dependent on his wife, putting a strain on their relationship.

David received Incapacity Benefit and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) until 2012 when he was summoned to a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). In a wheelchair, and unable to talk, David recounts that “I had my WCA and they said I was fit forwork. They took no notice of my very obvious problems. There’s not even anywhere in the report talking about my silence during the assessment, and some of the things in the report were simply false, they must have just made that up.”

With ESA taken away, David was left living on the lowest rate of Disability Living Allowance. Receiving less than £100 per month, he and his family began to starve. “When my ESA was stopped, it put my family deeper into poverty”, he says. “There were times we went without food, once we didn’t eat for three days, the benefits were not enough to support us. It was a vicious circle. To keep my bones strong and healthy I needed a healthy diet, but I couldn’t afford a healthy diet, so my condition got worse. We wouldn’t have survived without food banks. The benefits system should have been better”.

David now lives in Wigan, and attends a community centre called Sunshine House which has given him a greater sense of purpose. David Beyond Poverty for GM Poverty ActionHe has made good friends, playing Scrabble and other games, and writing science fiction at the writers’ group.

David says he has been “struggling, maybe like a lot of people” in the last few years. He is accepting of his condition, remarking, “After this amount of time I don’t think that it will improve. I gave up on miracles ages ago”. But he smiles and notes the many riches he does enjoy. Through it all, there is a real determination to be part of society, to be accepted. He says, “I want other people to accept my condition as it’s not going to get any better. I’d like to be known as me, as I am now. I am David.”

Interview carried out, and photos taken, by Peter Cruickshank for Greater Manchester Poverty Action’s Beyond Poverty report 

 

Since their introduction in 20008 Work Capability Assessments have come under much criticism from disabled groups, academics and independent assessors for damaging mental health and wrongly removing funding from many people in need. Furthermore the National Audit Office has found that about 70,000 ESA claimants have been underpaid for years, some as much as £20,000.

DWP’s fit-to-work tests ‘cause permanent damage to mental health’, study finds

2,000 disabled people wrongly declared ‘fit to work’ by DWP in just three months

 

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Real Food Wythenshawe

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Who are Real Food Wythenshawe?

Wythenshawe Community Housing Group’s Real Food project is a health and wellbeing programme whose goal is to change people’s behaviour around healthy more sustainable lifestyles. The programme launched in 2013 with an aim to make Wythenshawe an exemplar of how food projects should be run in the 21st century and has since gone from strength to strength helping contribute to WCHG’s vision “to  create communities where people choose to live and work, having pride in their homes and services.”

Some of the project highlights include:

•  Presenting to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland to help raise awareness about food poverty in the UK as part of the Universal Periodic Review.

Wythenshawe Real Food in Geneva for GM Poverty Action

Real Food in Geneva

•  Launching ‘the Unit E’ food storage warehouse in Wythenshawe Town Centre which helps to distribute to seven food banks across the area

•  Winning a Gold Award for the ‘50 shades of Green’ Garden as part of Manchester Dig The City in 2015

•  Winning Gold at RHS Tatton for their ‘Taste of Wythenshawe’ Garden in partnership with Reeseheath college and then relocating the garden in Wythenshawe Park for all to enjoy with the help of WCHG

In its first 5 years the project has been so successful it has reached across the whole Wythenshawe community and even further.  It’s done this through a whole host of different projects which all contribute to supporting people to lead healthier, lower carbon lifestyles through the food they grow, cook and eat, which is also the teams motto even featuring on the BBC National Lottery’s programme.

The project was initially built around 5 flagship projects

Wythenshawe Real Food Geodome for GM Poverty Action

The Geodome

The Geodome

Green Spaces to Growing Spaces

Mapping and Harvesting Abundance

Cooking and Eating Sustainably

Wythenshawe Park Walled Garden and Farm

The Geodome is located at the Manchester College on Brownley Road and aims to inspire and excite young people to understand where their food comes from.  This innovative indoor food growing system helps to stimulate discussion around sustainable urban food production and introduce students to the issues around environmental change and food security whilst promoting sustainability and encouraging students to become Real Food Ambassadors for the future.

The food grown in this indoor classroom is used by the café at the Manchester College and also the Real Food Demo Kitchen which is situated in the indoor market in Wythenshawe Town Centre.  Open every Tuesday and Thursday the demo kitchen, gives local people the opportunity to see how to cook different recipes, ask nutrition advice and taste the meals on offer.

Here are some stats:  since 2013

Wythenshawe Real Food Cooking for GM Poverty Action

Cooking up a feast!

15,268 Recipes given out

16,579 have attended cooking courses, events and workshops

100 sessions delivered at Real Food Kitchen & Wythenshawe indoor market footfall has increased 40%

72 Local Growing Groups supported by Real food

178 People have volunteered, totalling 11,020 hours donated

17 people have gone into full time employment

Distributed 22 tonnes of food through the Wythenshawe Food Bank

Plus local Food & Veg has risen through Real Food support at Wythenshawe Farm Shop

For more information please visit their Website or follow them on Twitter @realfoodteam or Facebook

 

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GM Food Poverty Alliance

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Join the Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance

The proliferation of food banks and other social food providers has been one of the largest movements of this decade – now we must work together for a Greater Manchester in which no-one has to go hungry.

With lower incomes and higher costs, many people are struggling to put food on the table, and a healthy, balanced diet may be even further from their reach. Many are also limited by inadequate cooking facilities. The explosion in the number of social food providerswe have mapped 171 of them across the city region – shows that the people of Greater Manchester share our concern and are taking action.

Some of these efforts are coordinated on the ground, for example in Wythenshawe and Stockport, and there is some over-arching coordination by the likes of The Trussell Trust, Independent Food Aid Network and Greater Together Manchester. However many gaps remain, for example valuable data remains uncollected by many food banks, in some areas public sector and social sector responses are not joined up, and the role of much of the private sector is significantly underdeveloped.

We believe that this is the time for strategic action to bring out the best in Greater Manchester’s response. The first aim of the Alliance will therefore be to co-produce a Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester. The plan will set achievable actions, to:
•  Reduce and prevent food poverty
•  Build resilience and support communities to plan and adapt to the challenge of food poverty
•  Address structural and economic issues that underlie food poverty, such as the benefits system and precarious and low-paid employment

I also made a pledge at the Mayor’s Green Summit last week that the Alliance will consider the environmental impact of its recommendations, while also challenging those who lead on environmental issues to consider the impact of their work on people in poverty.

Participants can be in the public, private or social sectors, and they can be leaders in positions of power, on-the-ground practitioners or people with lived experience of food poverty. This alliance will have a place for people from all walks of life, all across Greater Manchester, as long as they want to work with others towards a more coordinated and strategic long-term approach to addressing food poverty in our city region.

We ask every organisation that works with people who have lived experience of food poverty, to encourage some of them to attend the meeting. The Alliance, and the Action Plan, will be stronger and have greater integrity if co-produced with people who are ‘experts by experience’.

You can join the alliance by attending our launch event:

Time: 1pm – 4pm    Date: Tuesday May 8th 2018

Venue: Main Hall, Methodist Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester, M1 1JQ.

Please book in advance, and share this invitation with others who might be interested

Tom Skinner, GMPA Director writes editorial for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner

If you cannot attend the event but would like to be included in future communications about the Alliance, please email Tom  with ‘FPA Sign-up’ in the subject line.

The Greater Manchester Food Poverty Alliance, convened by Greater Manchester Poverty Action and the Food Poverty Special Interest Group, is part of the national Food Power program.

 

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Minimum Wages

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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 2018 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 2018 will be:

For Apprentices in their first year or under 19:         £3.70
For employees under 18:                                            £4.20
For employees aged 18 – 20:                                     £5.90
For employees aged 21 – 24:                                     £7.38
For employees 25 and over:                                       £7.83

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 £8.75/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 rebrand 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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Access to Justice

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Struggling families disqualified from justice despite Supreme Court verdict


This was the headline for an article published by the Law Society last week. “Poverty-hit families are being denied vital help to fight eviction, tackle severe housing disrepair and address other life-changing legal issues, the Law Society of England and Wales revealed today.”

The article went on to report that last year the Supreme Court declared employment tribunal fees unlawful for households on low income because of the sacrifices they would have to make to be able to afford legal costs.

The Law Society president Joe Egan said: “No-one in modern society should have to choose between accessing the justice system and a minimum living standard.  The financial eligibility test for civil legal aid is disqualifying people from receiving badly-needed legal advice and representation, even though they are already below the poverty line.”

He was speaking on the publication of a new report commissioned by the Law Society and produced by Professor Donald Hirsch of Loughborough University.

Professor Hirsch said: “Millions of households in Britain today struggle to make ends meet, even when they include someone in work, often because of part-time, low-wage or irregular earnings. Yet in general, the legal aid system requires working people to pay their legal costs, either in full or by making a contribution that low earners would find hard or impossible to afford. Those who are out of work are generally covered by legal aid but may be excluded if they own their homes. The assumption that someone could sell their home to cover a legal bill is out of line with other forms of state means-testing – such as help with care costs, where the value of your home is ignored if you or your partner still live in it.”

The Law Society is asking the government to restore the means test to its 2010 real-terms level, and to conduct a review to consider what further changes are required to address the problems exposed by this report.

Read the full report

 

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