Guest Blogs

GM Housing Providers Poverty Pledges

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GM Housing Providers report regularly on their attempts to tackle poverty (GM Housing Providers Spring 2019 Anti-Poverty Newsletter), and this month their pledges have been revamped to include many specific commitments to make the Food Poverty Action Plan a reality.  These include:

Action to reduce the “poverty premium”. We have pledged to work in partnership locally to identify the best deals for our customers on services such as access to technology, broadband and essentials such as white goods, furniture and clothing and to actively market these lower cost options.

Increase fuel vouchers provision and affordable white goods to ensure people have the fuel and equipment needed to cook meals. We have pledged to promote initiatives designed to reduce energy bills  and to improve access to financial advice and services for existing and prospective tenants

Establish more food clubs/food pantries, especially in areas that lack affordable healthy food. Housing providers already work with and support many of the Pantry type projects in GM and we have pledged to support the expansion of models that divert food waste.  We will also coordinate an effort which will support the expansion of bulk buy food and support further coordination of food banks and the development of food co-ops.

Open up unused land for food to be grown for community use and help to grow food for community use. We have pledged to increase initiatives to grow and access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables.

Show leadership in tackling low pay, insecure work, and unemployment – become accredited Real Living Wage employers – We have pledged to do this with over half of GM housing providers now accredited.

Develop and implement local procurement policies to source supplies locally, including but not limited to food. We have pledged to adopt a consistent approach to maximising the value of our procurement and supply chain by adopting and implementing the principles in the GMCA Social Value Policy.

All Local Authorities and Housing Associations should pledge to invest in new social housing. We have pledged to work collaboratively on development sites and schemes to maximise impact and reduce costs and continue to prioritise the delivery of low cost rented housing.

 

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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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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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Can you pledge?

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More than 50 pledges have been made by people and organisations across Greater Manchester, to implement the recommended actions in the Food Poverty Action Plan. Here Mylo Kaye from the charity “Pledge” talks about action that he is taking to tackle food poverty. Can you pledge to take action on food poverty by starting to implement one or more of the actions in the Plan? Please read the Action Plan and email to tell us what you will do to make the Food Poverty Action Plan a reality.

From earth to table, how local allotment growing is feeding people in poverty

By Mylo Kaye, CEO of Pledge

On an allotment in Stretford, a group of friends led by Kal Gill-Faci are spending most weekends clearing, weeding and getting the ground ready to sow fruit and vegetables that will soon make their way to the tables of Greater Manchester people. This natural, healthy, nutritious food is helping to combat food poverty.

Pledge article for GM Poverty Action

Kal Gill-Faci delivers fresh produce to Reach out to the Community

Humphrey Park allotments are home to Pledge, a local charity helping people living in poverty. The charity, started last year is focused on ending poverty for those living across Greater Manchester.

For the past year, food grown has been harvested and donated to other local charities such as Cornerstone, The Longford Centre, Barnabus, Mustard Tree, Reach Out to the Community & The Globe Food Pantry. These partnerships are vital to the success of ‘Plot for Poverty’ and the initiative couldn’t happen without them.

Over 7,400 meals will have been delivered to hungry people across our region by the Autumn, and with the only cost being time, it’s a win-win for local people in need and the charities cooking the fresh food. Typical fruit and veg that is grown are things like Kale, Potatoes, Cauliflower, Onions and Grapes, plus many more. The food makes its way from earth to table in a matter of hours.

Local children are also actively involved in the growing. Education around food poverty amongst people who are homeless is essential, these young people are our leaders of tomorrow and we need them to get involved and make their own change.

Mylo Kaye article for GM Poverty Action

Mylo Kaye

Individuals, groups and allotments across Greater Manchester are encouraged to get involved to help end food poverty in the region, by either starting their own ‘Plot for Poverty’ or by offering time and resources to Pledge to maximise growing efforts in the run-up to the Autumn months.

We can all make a massive impact by finding intuitive ways to help people living in poverty, but we can only do this by working together.

You can see a video of the project here

 

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Launch of the Food Poverty Action Plan

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GMFPA logo

Last week GMPA launched Greater Manchester’s first ever Food Poverty Action Plan to a packed hall in Manchester. The Action Plan was the culmination of 10 months work by over 100 people and organisations, which I have had the privilege of coordinating.

With over 600,000 people, including 200,000 children, living in poverty in Greater Manchester and food bank use higher in the city region than most other parts of the country, the plan calls for action by organisations across all sectors to help prevent people falling into poverty, and to support people relying on food handouts out of poverty through advice, support and signposting.Infographic2 GMFPA for GM Poverty Action

Andy Burnham at GMFPA APL for GM Poverty Action

GM Mayor Andy Burnham

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, who wrote the foreword for the Action Plan, spoke at the event and pledged that he would write to every public body in Greater Manchester, asking them to implement this plan at the local level.

To read the summary or full action plan please go to the GM Food Poverty Action Plan page

Panel at GMFPA APL for GM Poverty Action

Some of the chairs of the Food Poverty Alliance’s nine sub-groups took questions from the audience

 

 

 

 

 

Pledge 6 at GMFPA APL for GM Poverty Action

 

Among many other things, the action plan calls for:

  • A joined-up response on the ground – the provision of debt, welfare advice and other support alongside the provision of food handouts and support, so that people get the most appropriate help as quickly as possible;
  • More longer-term options for people in need of food support, such as food clubs, pantries and community grocers, to match the level of support provided for people in moments of crisis;GMFPA Inforgraphic 4 for GM Poverty Action
  • A lead for poverty to be appointed by the GM Combined Authority and each of Greater Manchester’s ten councils;
  • Schools to increase uptake of free school meals, and to work with local businesses and charities to run breakfast clubs, while supporting coordinated action on holiday hunger;
  • A campaign to increase uptake of Healthy Start Vouchers, an NHS scheme that supports parents on low incomes to buy healthy food for their young children. GMPA estimates around £3.6million worth of vouchers went unclaimed in Greater Manchester last year;GMFPA Infographic 5 for GM Poverty Action
  • Health services to expand social prescribing for healthy food-related activities such as cooking classes and food growing, and to work with charities and businesses to promote healthy food.

The full plan has more than 70 actions, including something for each organisation in every sector and every borough of Greater Manchester to do, to play their part in tackling food poverty. You can find both the summary and the full Action Plan (the more detailed full version will evolve as the plan is implemented, hence the more minimalist presentation) here, along with more information about the Food Poverty Alliance and how it has co-produced the Action Plan.

To continue coordinating the work of the Food Poverty Alliance, we also need to secure additional project funding and are asking organisations across Greater Manchester to pledge financial support to help us recruit a full-time project worker who will:

•  Drive forward the recommended actions in the Action Plan, working with partners and allies across all sectors and in all boroughs to encourage action and to provide support and advice;

•  Convene open meetings between all stakeholders who are taking action on food poverty, to encourage a joined-up response and evidence-based action;

•  Work with the food support sector (food banks, food clubs etc) to ensure provision matches people’s and
communities’ needs;

•  Ensure that food poverty action is joined up with other action on food.

A funding proposal and budget is available on request from food@gmpovertyaction.org.

Tom Skinner editorial article for GM Poverty Action

Tom Skinner, GMPA Director

With the plan launched, now we need to make it a reality, with joined-up efforts to reduce and prevent food poverty for thousands of people all across Greater Manchester. More than 50 pledges have already been made by people and organisations across Greater Manchester. 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

 

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Prosperity and poverty

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by Graham Whitham

Increasingly it feels like Greater Manchester is moving slowly but surely towards a much stronger and clearer agenda on poverty. Andy Burnham’s work on homelessness, the development of local anti-poverty strategies by some of our local authorities (some of which are detailed here), the interest in Poverty Truth Commissions across the city region and the work of GMPA’s Food Poverty Alliance are all signs of a determination to tackle the issue of poverty through partnership working and in a sustainable and strategic way.

A good next step would be embedding tackling poverty and raising living standards within the city region’s economic agenda, recognising the negative impact poverty has on the economy of Greater Manchester through lost human potential and reduced productivity and the need for increased spending on public services.

That’s why it was good to see a strong focus on raising living standards and addressing inequalities in the Independent Greater Manchester Prosperity Review, launched last week. The Review was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). It updates the Manchester Independent Economic Review (MIER) published ten years ago.

The Prosperity Review recognises that whilst there has been strong growth in highly skilled areas such as the digital sector, the city region is also home to a lot of jobs that are low paid and offer poor terms and conditions. The growth in ‘poor quality jobs’ has exacerbated existing inequalities within Greater Manchester and left the city region’s living standards lagging behind those of London and the South East.

It has become increasingly accepted that we need to ensure economic activity benefits the lives of everyday citizens. Concentrating on high growth sectors of the economy risks ignoring large swathes of Greater Manchester’s economy, and we can’t expect living standards to rise if we have a two-tier economy – one offering well paid, secure jobs in highly skilled sectors, and the other offering poor quality jobs with limited opportunities for progression in traditionally low paying sectors such as care and retail. Harnessing the role of technology in these sectors should help boost productivity and link them more closely to the ever-expanding digital economy. The challenge will be ensuring workers across the city region benefit from this. We need to develop new ways of measuring that this is happening so that we can better understand whether the ‘economic story’ of Greater Manchester is translating into positive outcomes for its residents.

Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham, GMPA Director

The Prosperity Review will sit alongside the Greater Manchester Industrial Strategy. The Mayor has also been working on a Good Employment Charter aimed at encouraging wider take-up of positive employment practices among employers. More details will be announced later this year. Work on these different elements presents an opportunity to set out an economic programme for the city region that focuses clearly on outcomes for residents. As other approaches set out a stronger agenda on poverty, we need to think about how we link the two so that tackling poverty is part of how we develop and grow the Greater Manchester Economy.

 

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