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From Poverty to Prosperity for all

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A one day Conference on April 2nd, 2019

This is a joint event organised by the Inclusive Growth Analysis Unit at the University of Manchester and GMPA.

Greater Manchester can tell an impressive ‘growth story’, but poverty continues to exist across the city-region and on a large-scale. More than 600,000 people are living on low incomes, with child poverty rates of over 40% in parts of the city-region. Meanwhile a growing share of people are in in-work poverty and welfare reforms and a freeze on working-age benefits have taken £100s if not £1,000s out of the pockets of the poorest families.

How can local areas respond to these challenges? This conference will examine whether it is possible to do more to tackle poverty at local- and city-region level, with a particular focus on Greater Manchester.

Nationally, the Government has scrapped targets to reduce child poverty and the requirement for local authorities to develop child poverty strategies. In the context of city-region devolution, and a growing emphasis on cities as the engines of economic growth, is a commitment to a more inclusive approach to economic development, part of the answer? What new examples and ideas can we draw on to shape action at a local level: to design and promote better jobs; tackle living costs; and help people to gain additional skills and build routes out of poverty?

Confirmed speakers and panel guests include:

KEYNOTES AND PANEL GUESTS

Katie Schmuecker, Head of Policy and Partnerships, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Uzma Kahn, Deputy Director, Economic Strategy, Scottish Government

Rita Evans, Leading GM Programme Director

Mike Wild, Chief Executive, Manchester Community Central

THEMED SESSIONS

Supporting parental employment, an “infrastructure” approach with Eve Holt, Co-founder, Happen Together CIC (chair), Imandeep Kaur, Birmingham Impact HUB

Tackling living costs for low income residents: Emma Stone, The Good Things Foundation (chair), Andy Davis, Salary Finance, and Paul Colligan, End Furniture Poverty

An anti-poverty approach to adult skills: speakers to be announced

Equitable business models as a means of tackling poverty: speakers to be announced

This timely conference will bring together people with expertise in economic development, skills, public service reform, procurement, social housing, welfare and debt advice services, crisis and family support services as well as those with experience of poverty to share ideas and learn from practical initiatives that have been trialled elsewhere. The day will end with a panel discussion to identify the next steps we can take to tackle poverty in Greater Manchester.

The conference is being held at the Mechanics Institute in the centre of Manchester. Booking has now closed.  The programme for the day is available here.

This conference builds on the local poverty strategies event GMPA held at Kellogg’s in October 2018.

University of Manchester, GMPA and JRF logos for GM Poverty Action

i3oz9sFrom Poverty to Prosperity for all
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Drop-in Timetable 2018

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Manchester  Christmas & New Year Drop-In Timetable


supplied by
Street Support logo for Xmas 2018 dropin timetable for GM Poverty Action

 


Sat 22nd Dec

Lifeshare 7am – 9am Breakfast
Reach Out To The Community 10am – 5pm Shop open. Food parcels & support
Mustard Tree 10am – 4pm Furniture, clothes, food club & food parcels
Coffee4Craig 5pm – 7pm Food, showers, advice & support

Sunday 23rd Dec

Lifeshare 7am – 9am Breakfast (Xmas Project begins 2pm – 8pm)
Food4All 4pm – 6pm Sunday roast, (veg & vegan options)
Coffee4Craig 5pm – 7pm Food, showers, advice & support

Mon 24th Dec

Lifeshare 8am – 8pm Food, entertainment, clothing, bedding, toiletries, medical care
Booth Centre 9am – 1pm Breakfast/lunch/advice/activities
Centrepoint 10am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 4.30pm Advice, referral & signposting
JustLife 10am – 12pm Meal & activities (Openshaw Centre, Ashton Old Road)
Mustard Tree 10am – 4pm Furniture, clothes, food club & food parcels
Cornerstones 10.30am – 3pm Hot food & drinks, shower & clothing
Reach Out To The Community 10.30am – 3pm Shop open. Food parcels & support
Urban Village 2.30pm – 4.30pm GP, nurse, drug worker and wound care clinic
MASH 10pm – 2am Mobile drop-In

Tues 25th Dec

Lifeshare 8am – 8pm Food, entertainment, clothing, bedding, toiletries, medical care
Booth Centre 9am – 1pm Breakfast/Xmas Day dinner/advice/activities
Cornerstones 10.30 – 3pm Xmas Day dinner

Wed 26th Dec

Lifeshare 8am – 8pm Food, entertainment, clothing, bedding, toiletries, medical care
Cornerstones 10.30 – 3pm Boxing Day dinner

Thurs 27th Dec

Lifeshare 8am – 8pm Food, entertainment, clothing, bedding, toiletries, medical care
Booth Centre 9am – 1pm Breakfast/lunch/advice/activities
Centrepoint 10am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 4.30pm Advice, referral & signposting
Men’s Room 10am – 5pm (Office) 12pm -4pm (Creative session)
Mustard Tree 10am – 12.30pm Furniture, clothes, food club & food parcels
Reach Out To The Community 10am – 4pm Shop open. Food parcels & support
Cornerstones 10.30am – 3pm Hot food & drinks, shower & clothing
Urban Village 2.30pm – 4.30pm GP, nurse, drug worker and wound care clinic
Coffee4Craig 7pm – 9pm Food, showers, advice & support
MASH 8pm – 12am Mobile drop-In

Fri 28th Dec

Lifeshare 8am – 8pm Food, entertainment, clothing, bedding, toiletries, medical care
Booth Centre 9am – 1pm Breakfast/lunch/advice/activities
JustLife 10am – 12pm Meal & activities (Openshaw Centre, Ashton Old Road)
Reach Out To The Community 10am – 4pm Shop open. Food parcels & support
Mustard Tree 10am – 4pm Furniture, clothes, food club & food parcels
Centrepoint 10am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 4.30pm Advice, referral & signposting
Cornerstones 10.30am – 3.30pm Hot food & drinks, shower & clothing
Urban Village 2.30pm – 4.30pm GP, nurse, drug worker and wound care clinic
Mustard Tree 5pm – 8.30pm Hot meal, advice, clothing
Coffee4Craig 7pm – 9pm Food, showers, advice & support

Sat 29th Dec

Lifeshare 7am – 2pm Food, entertainment, clothing, bedding, toiletries, medical care
Reach Out To The Community 10am – 4pm Shop open. Food parcels & support
Mustard Tree 10am – 4pm Furniture, clothes, food club & food parcels
Coffee4Craig 5pm – 7pm Food, showers, advice & support

Sun 30th Dec

Lifeshare 7am – 9am Breakfast
Food4All 4pm – 6pm Sunday roast, (veg & vegan options)
Coffee4Craig 5pm – 7pm Food, showers, advice & support

Mon 31st Dec

Booth Centre 9am – 1pm Breakfast/lunch/advice/activities
JustLife 10am – 12pm Meal & activities (Openshaw Centre, Ashton Old Road)
Barnabus (Support Office) 10am – 1pm Accommodation. Advice
Reach Out To The Community 10am – 4pm Shop open. Food parcels & support
Mustard Tree 10am – 4pm Furniture, clothes, food club & food parcels
Centrepoint 10am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 4.30pm Advice, referral & signposting
Cornerstones 10.30am – 3pm Hot food & drinks, shower & clothing
Barnabus (Beacon) 10.30am – 1pm Breakfast, showers, clothing, lunch
Urban Village 2.30pm – 4.30pm GP, nurse, drug worker and wound care clinic
Coffee4Craig 7pm – 9pm Food, showers, advice & support

Tues 1st Jan

Cornerstones 10.30am – 3pm Hot food & drinks, shower & clothing
Barnabus (Beacon) 11am – 2pm Lunch, showers, clothing
Coffee4Craig 7pm – 9pm Food, showers, advice & support

Contact details:
Barnabus, (Beacon) 45 Bloom Street, M1 3LY 0161 237 3223
Barnabus, (SupportOffice) 61 Bloom Street, M1 3LY
Booth Centre, Pimblett Street, M3 1FU 0161 835 2499
Centrepoint,52 Oldham St, M4 1LE 0161 228 7654
Coffee4Craig,52 Oldham Street, M4 1LW 07973 955003
Cornerstones,104b Denmark Road, M15 6JS 0161 232 8888
Food4All,Church of the Apostles,Miles Platting, M40 7FY
JustLife, Ashton Old Road M11 1HH 0161 285 5888
Lifeshare, 42 Dantzic Street, M4 4DN 0161 235 0744
MASH, 94-96 Fairfield St, M1 2WR 0161 273 4555
Men’s Room, 113 Fairfield Street, M12 6EL 0161 8341827
Mustard Tree, 110 Oldham Road, Ancoats, M4 6AG 0161 850 2282
Reach Out TTC, 488 Wilbraham Rd, M21 9AS 0161 862 9415
Urban Village, Old Mill St, M4 6EE 0161 272 5656

 

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i3oz9sDrop-in Timetable 2018
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Filling the vacuum

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The need for local child poverty strategies

On Friday October 26th, 2018 from 1.30pm – 3.30pm at Kelloggs, Orange Tower, Media City UK, Salford M50 2HF

There is currently a sizeable policy vacuum in respect of tackling family poverty in the UK. The UK government no longer has a child poverty strategy in place. The 2020 child poverty targets and the requirement on councils to have local poverty strategies were both scrapped by the Coalition Government.

With child poverty currently increasing and expected to reach 5.2 million by 2022, urgent action is needed locally to mitigate the impact of central government policy.  Local authorities and their partners in different parts of the country have begun filling this vacuum through the implementation of child or family poverty strategies and initiatives such as poverty truth commissions.

In Scotland, the Scottish Government has introduced its own child poverty reduction targets and is asking local authorities to create Child Poverty Action Plans.

At this event we will discuss how we can ensure Greater Manchester is at the forefront of tackling family poverty.  We will also explore how we can work together across public, private and VCSE sectors to ensure that all parts of the city region have comprehensive poverty strategies in place.

Speakers:
Graham Whitham, Greater Manchester Poverty Action;
Louisa McGeehan, Child Poverty Action Group;
Angela Harrington, Manchester City Council;
Lisa Nandy, Member of Parliament for Wigan (pictured above);
Andrew Lightfoot, Greater Manchester Combined Authority;
John McKendrick, The Scottish Poverty and Inequality Unit

Places are limited so please book

 

i3oz9sFilling the vacuum
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Autumn 2018

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After a short break in August, the team at GMPA has a very busy few months ahead. We’re using the front page of this week’s newsletter to update you on our autumn activities.

Firstly, thank you to everyone who booked onto our Understanding Poverty Data course taking place later this month. This course is now fully booked. However, we have several places remaining on the Exploring the Poverty Premium course (October 18th). Please look at the training page of our website for details of how to book a place.

On October 26th we are delighted to be hosting an event looking at child and family poverty strategies. Lisa Nandy MP will be speaking at the event and we’re being hosted by Kellogg’s in Media City. We’ll be presenting research looking at which local authorities across England have poverty strategies in place. With the Westminster Government no longer having its own child poverty strategy and seemingly having abandoned this agenda, it is increasingly important that local authorities and their partners work to fill the vacuum. The event is free to attend and open to all, but places are limited so please book as soon as possible via EventBrite.

Next Wednesday (September 19th) we will be launching research looking at crisis support provided through local welfare assistance schemes. These schemes, operated by local authorities, replaced the old central government Discretionary Social Fund in 2013 and, despite the best efforts of many local councils, are under huge pressure in many parts of the country. We’ll be sending the report out to newsletter recipients next Wednesday morning. In advance of this, tomorrow I’m speaking at a workshop being organised by the Children’s Society where we’ll be looking at approaches to providing crisis support. Later on in the day I’ll be speaking at Child Poverty Action Group’s annual welfare rights conference (I hope to see some of you there).

The beginning of November marks this year’s Living Wage Week. As hosts of the Greater Manchester Living Wage Campaign we’ll be announcing our plans for Living Wage Week in the next couple of newsletters.

GMPA Greatewr Manchester Food Poverty Alliance logo for GM Poverty Action

The work of our Food Poverty Alliance continues apace, and it isn’t too late to
get involved. Please take a look at our Food Poverty website page for full details, and please fill in the Food Poverty action surveys if you haven’t already.

Small image of food map Sept 2018 for GM Poverty Action articleAs most of our readers will be aware, GMPA provides a map of Greater Manchester showing the locations of food providers for people in need . Following recommendations from members of the Food Poverty Alliance, we have amended the map to highlight the growing number of food pantries, food clubs and meal offers in the city region. When we launched the map in January 2017 there were 136 locations, now there are more than 170, but increasingly the new pins represent pantry-style options. This is an encouraging sign as while emergency providers such as food banks are a vital lifeline for people in moments of crisis, this provision must be matched by more sustainable approaches that can support people before they reach crisis point. You can read more about the pantry model on page 2.

Graham W UK poverty strategy article for GM Poverty Action

Graham Whitham

And lastly before I sign off. Thank you to everyone who engages and supports the work of GMPA. Without your interest, advice and support we wouldn’t be able to do our work. A big thank you from Tom, Chris and myself.

I hope to see you soon.

Graham

 

i3oz9sAutumn 2018
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Hidden young people in Salford – a new research project

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Since the mid-2000s, increasing numbers of young people have been struggling to make a successful transition from full-time education into work or further training opportunities. Whilst in recent years the numbers of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs) has been decreasing following a peak in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the number of young people impacted remains a major concern.

But whilst there is a growing body of research focusing on NEETs, there is increasing concern about so-called ‘Hidden NEETs’ – those young people who are neither in employment, education or training nor in contact with mainstream welfare services. Suggested possible reasons for being ‘hidden’ include the stigma associated with benefit receipt, experience of benefit ‘sanctions’, being able to rely on financial support from family, engagement in crime and participating in the informal economy.  However the evidence base on this is incredibly weak.

To address this evidence gap, the University of Salford, as part of the Salford Anti-Poverty Taskforce, has been commissioned by Salford City Council to explore this issue.

We are currently trying to find young people (aged 18 – 24) who are living in Salford, not in employment, education or training (NEET), and not claiming the benefits they are entitled to. They will be invited to take part in a short, confidential interview about their experiences and all will receive a £10 shopping voucher as a thank you for their time.  If you or your organisation are aware of any such individuals, or might be able to help us to find them, please contact Katy Jones by email or call 0161 295 7030.

Hidden young people in Salford for GM Poverty Action

i3oz9sHidden young people in Salford – a new research project
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Mary Robinson

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How do we tackle poverty in Greater Manchester? An article by Mary Robinson MP for Cheadle

Mary Robinson MP for Cheadle for GM Poverty Action

Mary Robinson MP

There is no simple answer to tackling poverty. However I want to talk about aspects of tackling poverty which I have direct experience of from my work as a Member of Parliament: The role of jobcentres, homelessness and housing. The Government recognises that the best route out of poverty is work, and I am encouraged by consistently good employment figures which show that more people are in work, more jobs are being created, and that the majority are full time.

Encouragingly, when I recently visited Stockport Jobcentre staff told me that they are reaching vulnerable people who they wouldn’t have reached in the past, meaning that long-term issues relating to poverty can begin to be addressed. In addition to this, the Jobcentre is able to offer a wider service, with work coaches being able to help people with housing and other issues by working with Stockport Homes and the Council. Making sure that people are confident enough to seek help and advice is a massive step towards tackling poverty.

Turning to homelessness, it is concerning to hear of rises in rough sleeping in recent years, which is why I was proud to co-sponsor the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, and I am confident that it will play a big part in tackling homelessness in Greater Manchester as time goes on. Helping every homeless person, not just those in ‘priority’ need should mean that nobody is refused help if they seek it. In the budget last year the Government announced the first step in eliminating rough sleeping altogether by 2027. A £28 million investment by the Government in three ‘Housing First’ pilots, one of which I’m pleased to see has been launched in Manchester, will provide 270 homes and support rough sleepers with the most complex needs to turn their lives around.

However, tackling homelessness is as much about preventing it as it is about relieving it, and I am glad that the Act recognises this. It is wrong to leave people to fall into homelessness when we know they are already at risk, so people will now be offered help as soon as they are 56 days away from being homeless, rather than at the very brink.

Ultimately, any strategy designed to tackle homelessness and poverty is dependent on having a housing strategy to match, and as a member of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee I have helped to scrutinise this. Last year, the Prime Minister announced an extra £2 billion for social and affordable housing, and committed to building 300,000 homes a year. These are bold measures, and if done right, will ensure that more people have a home and a defence against poverty.

Poverty is inextricably linked to mental health, and housing is also important when it comes to protecting people who are even more vulnerable. Supported housing offers vital support to vulnerable people, and I was pleased that recently the Government announced that the local housing allowance cap will not be applied to socially rented homes, and that a new approach to funding for supported housing will end the ‘top up’ which local Councils currently have to pay. This will make supported housing more accessible and prevent more vulnerable people from falling into poverty.

Good jobs, good homes, and an accessible support system for when people fall on hard times are the best defences against poverty. While we have a way to go, it is important that we continue to address the underlying causes of poverty and tackle it for the long term.

 

i3oz9sMary Robinson
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Coming up in 2018

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Coming up in 2018

Mike Wild, Chief Executive of Macc, looks ahead at issues and opportunities for the voluntary sector and all who are working to tackle poverty. This is an abridged version of his update in Macc’s newsletter that some may have seen.

The Office for Civil Society will start consultation on a Civil Society Strategy and will provide an opportunity for a new conversation about the role of our sector in shaping places that people live in, not just an abstract national strategy

Welfare Reform: the rollout of Universal Credit is going to continue to put pressure on local support organisations. We need to keep campaigning and sharing stories of the impact this is having on people’s lives. Partly to challenge media stories of ‘benefit scroungers’ which have created a whole set of urban myths and prejudices but also to identify possible legal challenges to this system. (there’s more comment and information on UC on the following page)

The Greater Manchester Devolution experiment could be at risk of becoming less daring as time passes but only bold solutions will work on housing, planning, inclusive growth and so on. Andy Burnham’s big theme this year is transport so expect attention on buses, cycling and a possible rethink of Manchester’s ‘Oyster Card’. We need the conversation to be inclusive to avoid social isolation, barriers to employment and the exclusion of people with physical and learning disabilities.

Homelessness will continue to be a highly visible issue, politically and practically. There’s attention on emergency support and getting people off the streets but there are harder conversations ahead about ongoing support for people with complex needs, collaboration between agencies and some honest discussions about economic priorities.

I am hoping to see plenty of discussion about how the GM Mayor’s Accord with the VCSE sector will be implemented, as we build collaboration and understanding of why it’s important and how it can practically be done.

There’s no sign of the Government doing anything to tackle the financial pressures faced by Local Authorities and with the national political agenda hypnotised by the fast approaching headlights of Brexit, that’s unlikely to shift any time soon. Remember also there are Local Elections in May so it’s a good time to be talking to candidates about local issues.

Social Prescribing is getting a lot of attention at GM level but still no overall agreement on what a good model looks like and still a lack of recognition that it’s not just about GP’s prescribing voluntary sector stuff, it’s the whole design and system of our sector working with public services.

Nationally and locally social care is under pressure. I think there is room to develop local social enterprises and co-operatives to provide home care but it’s hard to see where the investment in that could come from as costs are rising and the only sizeable customer (the Council) has less and less money to spend. And of course pressures on the NHS continue. I recently heard someone say that in NHS terms ‘winter’ now lasts for 12 months. We’ll be starting a conversation about how the VCSE sector and hospitals can work together.

So, I’m going to leave you with a quotation which sits on my office wall.

Mike Wild, coming up in 2018 article for GM Poverty Action

Mike Wild

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centred men have torn down, men other-centred can build up.”                   Dr. Martin Luther King

Mike Wild, Chief Executive, Macc

 

i3oz9sComing up in 2018
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Universal Credit

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Universal Credit: Comment and information

Roll-out dates for Universal Credit in 2018 in Greater Manchester:
March 2018: Ashton under Lyne and Hyde
April 2018: Ashton in Makerfield, Leigh and Wigan
May 2018: Middleton and Rochdale
July 2018: Bury, Cheetham Hill, Prestwich and Wythenshawe
September 2018:  Eccles, Irlam, Salford and Worsley
November 2018:  Bolton and Stockport

There are 3 different Benefit calculators available: Turn2us, entitledto and Policy in Practice. The last one includes an earnings slider, which shows how Universal Credit will be affected if earnings change.

Back to Basics: What is Universal Credit and what are the problems?  A quick guide by the Guardian
Universal Credit  (UC) is the supposed flagship reform of the benefits system, rolling together six benefits into one online-only system (including unemployment benefit, tax credits and housing benefit) . The theoretical aim, for which there was general support, was to simplify the benefits system and increase the incentives for people to work, rather than stay on benefits.

How long has it been around?  The project was legislated for in 2011. The plan was to roll it out by 2017. However, a series of management failures, expensive IT blunders and design faults have seen it fall at least five years behind schedule.

What is the biggest problem?  The original design set out  a minimum 42-day wait for a first payment to claimants when they moved to UC. In the autumn 2017 budget the wait was reduced to 35 days from February 2018. The wait has led to rent arrears (and in some cases to eviction), hunger (food banks in UC areas report almost 17% increases in referrals), use of expensive credit and mental distress.   Ministers have expanded the availability of hardship loans (now repayable over a year and resulting in reduced UC payments) to help new claimants while they wait for payment. Housing benefit will now continue for an extra two weeks after the start of a UC claim. Critics want the waiting time reduced to two or three weeks.

Are there other problems? Yes.  Multibillion-pound cuts to work allowances imposed by the former chancellor mean UC is far less generous than originally envisaged. According to the Resolution Foundation thinktank, about 2.5m low-income working households will be more than £1,000 a year worse off when they move on to UC, reducing work incentives. Landlords are worried that the level of rent arrears racked up by tenants on UC and the whole system is not very user-friendly: claimants complain the system is complex, unreliable and difficult to manage, particularly if you have no internet access.

Child Poverty Action Group Univresal Credit Publication for GM Poverty ActionThe Child Poverty Action Group produce a “Universal Credit: what you need to know” guide  for both advisers who need to know how and when universal credit will affect their clients, and for those currently claiming benefits themselves. It is filled with clear advice and lots of useful examples.  The current guide is the 4th edition, is 159 pages and costs £15  ISBN: 978 1 910715 33 8

Universal Credit: Can we fix it? Should we fix it? Excerpt from an article by Professor Jane Millar, University of Bath

“The Work and Pensions Select Committee in a new phase of their enquiry into the rollout of Universal Credit, identifies a list of ‘priorities’: self-employment; free school meals and passported benefits; work incentives, including both the work allowance and the taper rate; the locally delivered Universal Support system; and support for childcare costs in Universal Credit. The list does not tackle some of the most challenging changes such as the monthly assessment and the impact of a single monthly payment. Nevertheless, these are some major areas at the heart of Universal Credit, not just issues at the margins.

This follows hot on the heels of the Resolution Foundation’s ‘remedy’ report, which sets out 16 recommendations under four main headings: implementation; generosity of support; financial incentives to enter work; and financial incentives to progress. And this is not the end; there are many other people and organisations with ideas about how to fix Universal Credit.  Gingerbread, for example, identifies seven areas particularly related to the needs and circumstances of lone parents.

There is, of course, quite a lot of overlap in the proposals. But still, that’s a lot of fixing. One might be forgiven for thinking that something that needs quite so much fixing is, perhaps, not really fit for purpose in the first place.

Should we fix it? The government says yes because Universal Credit will ensure that work always pays and will achieve three important goals: it will make people out of work search harder for jobs; it will increase the number of people in employment; and it will improve employment retention and progression.

But there is very little solid evidence so far to judge these claims.

And what of in-work progression? In many ways, this is the top prize. If Universal Credit can help low-paid workers improve their wages, and their jobs more generally, this would be an important outcome that could really improve incomes and lives. But we should be cautious about whether this is likely to happen. The Social Security Advisory Committee recently published a report on in-work progression and Universal Credit. This points out that ‘there is very little evidence as to what can be done to advance earnings progression’ – and that the DWP Randomised Control Trial, which is the main source of evidence so far, ‘has mostly involved single childless people who have progressed from unemployment into low paid work’.

There is a big policy and research agenda here, and ensuring that all Universal Credit recipients receive the best possible advice and support will be a major challenge.” Full article

Universal Credit and Foodbanks – perspectives from the Trussell Trust

Last year The Trussell Trust provided 1.2 million three-day emergency food supplies.  Most people referred to their foodbanks were at the time supported by working age benefits. Yet the average income for households was just £319 in the month before they were referred. Most households had been unable to afford heating, toiletries or suitable shoes or clothes for the weather. 78% had skipped meals and gone without eating – sometimes for days at a time, often multiple times a year.

Our current system of benefits is letting many of the most vulnerable people in our country down. Last year, Trussell Trust foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout saw an 16.85% average increase in referrals for emergency food, more than double the national average of 6.64%.

It is not just the way Universal Credit has been designed that is leaving people in crisis. There are also serious issues in its implementation. Due to poor administration and IT issues, some people are waiting 11, 12 and even 13 weeks to receive their first Universal Credit payment.

So, what can be done? In the immediate term, work to amend Universal Credit’s design and tackle poor administration in the system is needed before it should be rolled out further without causing more hunger and destitution. The Trussell Trust also knows there are some areas where Universal Credit hasn’t led to huge increases in the number of people needing foodbanks and they want to find out why. But what the Trussell Trust must not become is a charity safety net that catches people because our benefits system is fundamentally flawed, not just for moral or ethical reasons, but because the evidence on Universal Credit leads them to believe that even with the enormous generosity of donors and the hard work of volunteers and staff, they and the other foodbanks across the country will simply not be able to catch everybody who falls.                     More information             Now is not a time for celebration

To find your nearest foodbank please check GMPA’s Emergency Food Providers map.


Universal Credit and Housing

In a recent article by the Residential Landlords Association, they stated that 38% of landlords saw their Universal Credit tenants fail to pay their rent and start to fall into arrears.

“Currently, if Universal Credit tenants leave a home where they owe rent there is no mechanism for the landlord to recover the money owed to them via the benefit system. They simply have to write it off.  This is not fair, and against a backdrop of draconian tax changes and the pressures of increased regulation and licensing, it is a risk fewer and fewer landlords are willing to take.  Only 13% of landlords we questioned were willing to let properties to tenants on Universal Credit as it stands.

On January 9th MPs met at Westminster Hall to debate the effect of Universal Credit on the private rented sector. This debate provides an important opportunity to get past the politics and show how all the parties, working with landlords and tenants can secure the benefit system we all want – one that is easy to understand, fair to all, supports the vulnerable and ensures the security of a home for all claimants.”                                                                                                                            Full article

Universal Credit deductions excerpt from an article by Kate Belgrave

“A Freedom of Information request revealed that between April 2016 and October 2017, 95,620 Universal Credit claimants had deductions made from their payments due to tax credit debt. The average monthly deduction in October was £50.85 – no small amount for people who are already on such low incomes and who often already have money deducted from their benefits for other debts such as rent arrears, council tax, court fines and more recently, advance Universal Credit loans which they are forced to take out to cover delays in initial payments.

People don’t know how much money they will receive from one month to the next. Trying to find someone who will help them resolve complex, cross-department benefits problems is soul-destroying. People who receive Universal Credit can’t afford financial uncertainty, or the stress that goes with using these systems.”                                                                   Full article

i3oz9sUniversal Credit
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Reflecting on the budget

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Response to the Budget by Kate Green MP

Last week’s budget was a do-little effort from a government which, like the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition before it, has effectively dismantled Labour successes in ending child poverty and in homelessness  reduction. It was a miserable offer to low income families, doing little to deal with the government’s self-inflicted policy failures.

Rough sleeping and Temporary Accommodation: 

One of the most obvious and stark examples of these failures is the growth in rough sleeping and people living in temporary accommodation. The number of households in temporary accommodation in Greater Manchester has more than tripled since 2010. That’s an appalling situation for families unable to settle and put down roots in the community, it’s especially damaging for children whose education faces disruption, and it’s shockingly expensive for the taxpayer. But, while the chancellor did announce money for a rough sleeping pilot in Manchester to help those already on the streets, there was little beyond a consultation on longer tenancies in the private rented sector to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

While I applaud the Chancellor’s aim of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it by 2027, even halving it over the next 5 years would still not bring the number down to the position in 2010. What’s more, this is not a new pledge , but simply a repetition of the Conservatives’ election manifesto commitment – it’s clear the government are running out of ideas

Andy Burnham has taken a lead in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, but without concerted and sustained support from the party that caused the problem, and as cuts to social security continue, and work increasingly doesn’t pay enough to maintain a decent standard of living, growing in-work poverty will push more working families and individuals into perilous positions.

Child Poverty:

So it was also disappointing that there was so little in the budget in the way of efforts to address the effects of benefits and tax changes that threaten to reverse all the progress made in cutting child poverty in the last decade. Cuts to universal credit – which originally promised to lift 350,000 children out of poverty – are now predicted to push a million children into poverty, and 900,000 into severe poverty, by the end of the decade.

Families with children lose most from universal credit cuts. A couple with children stand to lose almost £1000 a year; single parents lose £2380, according to the Child Poverty Action Group. Working families stand to lose £420 a year on average from cuts to Universal Credit. The Resolution Foundation says the poorest third of households are set for an average loss of £715 a year by the end of the parliament.

I’m pleased the secretary of state for work and pensions made some additional announcements on Thursday that will help those on universal credit: cutting the waiting time by one week, delaying the introduction of the so-called ‘2-child’ policy, and allowing a run-on for existing claimants of housing benefit. But the bigger problem with universal credit is the cuts to the taper and work allowance, which mean you keep less of your earnings as your pay starts to increase – hardly a great work incentive. And all this sits alongside freezes and cuts to other benefits for children, which are also contributing to rising child poverty. There was no sign the Chancellor intends to do anything about that.

Paying the bills:

There wasn’t much help for families battling the rising cost of living either. Rising inflation and the fall in the value of the pound have forced the price of essential items like food and clothing to rocket, but there was no sign of the promised cap on energy bills, and in particular, nothing to help disabled people who face additional costs (such as for equipment, extra laundry or turning up the heating because they have to spend more time at home). As we approach the winter months, many will be worrying about the bills – but they too got nothing from the Chancellor.

If anyone expected the budget to bring an early Christmas present to those on the lowest incomes, they’ll have been sorely disappointed by Wednesday’s Scrooge budget.

Kate Green is the MP for Stretford and Urmston.  More information.

 

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“Is it OK to invest public money in building a multi-million-pound conference centre while the A&E down the road is crumbling?” written by Victoria Bettany from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES)

This question for me highlights the glaring errors in the mainstream economic model. For decades, it has been an accepted wisdom that investment in big shiny things will eventually trickle down to the masses. In some instances, investments of this type have brought new jobs to a failing economy. But time and again, this kind of investment fails to create good local economies where wealth is truly dispersed and broadly held, with local roots.

A flawed economic model operating alongside prolonged austerity has pushed much of the public sector into damage limitation mode, where innovation is considered a risk, too complex and costly to contemplate. This view is disastrous for public services and the economy at large.

Poverty, low wages and inequality are just a handful of myriad issues proliferated by the old economic model. Progressive economics promotes a system where the distribution of wealth extends to many more than the privileged few. Businesses, the social sector, the public sector, pension funds and more are the change agents required to embrace and further the movement from the old way to the new way, where prosperity, Living wages and equality are enjoyed by all.

If we want to create good local economies, we really need to think differently, and be bolder and more ambitious than ever.

In early July, an event took place at the Nishkam Centre in Birmingham, an audience of Policy makers, Think tanks and Enterprise networks gathered to hear how five cities have rejected the accepted wisdom of the old way and became part of a movement centred around progressive local economics.

Funded by the Friends Provident foundation, CLES and NEF have worked with Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds to develop and action innovative approaches to tackling the issues affecting real people that remain largely unchanged through the old economic model. This has not involved throwing up shiny new buildings or an obsessive focus on GDP. Instead they are spending their time embedding anchor institutions in the local economy to repatriate leaking wealth, engaging their community in creating a community economic plan with real outcomes, and shifting the narrative around the foundational economy specifically for sectors such as social care.

For CLES article for GM Poverty Action

A community taking charge of new housing in their area

As well as working intensively with these five cities, we also created an online handbook to help community groups and local
government to create good city economies across the rest of the UK. The handbook details all of the existing powers and tools
available for each of these actors to help them take the first step towards creating better housing, procuring and commissioning for good, offering and accessing finance that works for people and places, creating affordable renewable energy and a thriving local economy. Alongside every existing power or tool we have showcased a local example of where the use of that particular tool or power has been a force for positive change.

But this is just the beginning.

The five cities we worked with and this brand new handbook are part of a bigger movement, operating outside the auspices of the existing neoliberal economic model, with a drive to grow sustainable, liveable, and connected good local economies.

Find out more here:  Creating Good City Economies in the UK, Five Cities Five Good Local Economies and Building a Good Local Economy:  What do you want to do?

 

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