Social security in Greater Manchester

GMPA is working to support local authorities and other stakeholders to advance conversations about social security provision across the city region. This involves creating opportunities to develop policy thinking and ensuring that local welfare powers (e.g. Council Tax Support and local welfare assistance schemes) are fully utilised to help address poverty. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more about this work.

Our work on social security includes a focus on local welfare assistance schemes. You can find details of our 2018 research into these schemes here.

Using the COVID Winter Grant Scheme to support Free School Meal families

In November 2020 the government announced funding worth £170m for local authorities in England to support families with ‘food and bills’ during the Winter (the ‘COVID Winter Grant Scheme’). The funding needs to be spent between the start of December 2020 and end of March 2021.

GMPA believes that councils should prioritise using the COVID Winter Grant funding to support FSM families during the school holidays and that support should be delivered through monetary payments made by bank transfer. Our briefing explains why this is the most effective and efficient means of supporting low income families and sets out how this support should be delivered.

Covid Winter Grant Scheme button for GM Poverty Action

Devolved approaches to social security in the UK – lessons for Greater Manchester

As part of GMPA’s work on social security, working in partnership with the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) at the University of Salford, we invited leading social security policy experts to consider what Greater Manchester could learn from approaches to welfare policy in the devolved nations.

The essays identify a number of lessons for Greater Manchester from the experience of devolved nations, in particular the benefits of a person-centred approach to welfare policy that ensures people with experience of using the social security are involved in service design.

What also comes through strongly is that regardless of the levels of power over the social security system that exist, what can be done locally to support people accessing the welfare system depends on the interaction of available powers, available budget and political will.

You can download and read the essays below:


Reflections on Northern Ireland’s mirror image approach to devolved social security – Mark Simpson, School of Law, Ulster University


Social Security in Scotland – Sharon Wright


Taking an assets-based approach to Jobcentre Plus support: Lessons from Wales – Lisa Scullion, Professor of Social Policy, University of Salford and Katy Jones, Senior Research Associate, Manchester Metropolitan University


A fourth essay looks at what COVID-19 means for local welfare provision. Whilst recognising the incredible local cross-sector working that has happened during the pandemic, this essay warns of the risks presented by local welfare support operating in a context of diminishing resources.


What can local responses to COVID-19 tell us about the potential and challenges for devolved ‘welfare’? – Daniel Edmiston, University of Leeds,  David Robertshaw and Andrea Gibbons


You can read further discussion here

Thank you to the authors of the essays for their contributions. With particular thanks to Professor Lisa Scullion of SHUSU at the University of Salford for her work in bringing the series of essays together.

‘Cash first’ approaches to welfare provision

In July 2020 GMPA was asked to develop the following briefing for the Greater Manchester Humanitarian Assistance Group following the announcement of additional funding from central government aimed at supporting local authorities to respond to hardship in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The briefing focuses on the importance of taking a ‘cash first’ approach to local welfare provision. The briefing outlines the benefits of this approach and suggests local welfare assistance schemes would be a suitable route to supporting people in this way.

cash first button for GM Poverty Action

Our 2018 research into local welfare assistance schemes can be found here

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