Addressing the Underlying Causes of Food Poverty - Notes from Food Poverty Alliance sub-group

Here are the notes from the sub-group that looked at Addressing the Underlying Causes of Food Poverty - all actions were included in the Food Poverty Action Plan for Greater Manchester. What do you think? Have we missed anything? How might these actions be taken forward, and can you play a part in this?

Addressing the Underlying Causes of Food Poverty – Dr Mags Adams

The underlying causes of food poverty are poverty itself, plus poor access to affordable, healthy food. Most of the changes that need to be made come from national government policy and the wider economy, so although our power to influence this is limited, we will speak into these issues. However there are local actions that Greater Manchester can take to reduce food poverty, so our section focuses on these.

Aim 1 – A joined-up response to food poverty at the local level, with a "no wrong door approach" helping people to find the support that they need, and developing tools and pathways out of food poverty

By addressing the underlying causes of food poverty, we can ensure that everyone in Greater Manchester (GM) is food secure and has ‘adequate access at all times to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life’. Many of the problems associated with food poverty, including hunger and malnutrition, are problems caused by poverty. Addressing this will mean that households have a real Living Wage for a decent quality of life, that homelessness becomes a thing of the past, that children can focus on their education rather than their hunger, and that everyone has an affordable place to live.

Aim 1: Increase wages and reduce in-work poverty

  • Every anchor institution in GM should become an accredited Living Wage employer – paying the Real Living Wage, and encouraging their suppliers to pay the Real Living Wage. Every organisation involved in the GM Food Poverty Alliance is encouraged to do the same
  • We will support the Good Employment Charter and raise the role of low-paid insecure employment in contributing to food poverty in Greater Manchester
    ( Anchor institutions are large established organisations like local authorities, schools and universities which are rooted to their local communities)

Aim 2: Reduce the poverty premium across GM

  • The Big 5 electricity providers across GM should reduce use of pre-payment meters, ensure all households are on the cheapest energy tariff, and stop charging premiums for monthly billing, paper billing
  • Large retailers in GM should stop pushing individual appliance insurance
  • Energy providers, insurance companies, and other organisations associated with the poverty premium should sign up to Fair by Design Campaign
  • Councils should explore use of planning permission and other tools to limit the high street presence of firms that increase the poverty premium and don’t take these concerns into account

(The poverty premium refers to increased costs of some goods and services for low income households. GM Poverty Action’s research shows that low income households in Greater Manchester could be paying more than £1000 over the odds for everyday goods and services compared to those on middle and higher incomes.)

Aim 3: Ensure Local Welfare Assistance schemes are available to support vulnerable low-income households across Greater Manchester in times of financial crisis or domestic emergencies

  • Every Local Authority in GM should run a Local Welfare Assistance scheme to fill the gap when people move from one benefit to another and in times of crisis
  • Local Authorities should run and monitor running emergency funds along the lines of the Scottish Welfare Fund – where a grant rather than a loan is provided

Aim 4: Review how Universal Credit and the wider welfare system is implemented locally and build awareness of available support locally

  • All councils, neighbourhood officers, schools, and advice agencies should be aware of what support is available locally including loans, credit unions, and Healthy Start vouchers
  • We will engage DWP and encourage reduced use of sanctions, and encourage them to work with us and other forums e.g. Poverty Truth Commissions, to understand the situations and needs of people claiming Universal Credit and to build support around claimants

Aim 5: Increase the stock of affordable housing and support the Greater Manchester Mayor’s bid to eliminate rough sleeping

  • Ensure truly affordable, low cost housing is built and provided in sufficient quantities across GM
    • Tighten local affordable housing policies and targets in each Local Authority and ensure all new developments meet existing targets, then set higher targets in following years
    • All Local Authorities and Housing Associations should pledge to invest in new social housing
  • Review and use landlord licensing to drive improvements in the private rented sector
    • Develop a Greater Manchester Landlord accreditation scheme for well-maintained affordable rental accommodation

Aim 6: Develop tools to help people understand and navigate support systems, to find their way out of food poverty

  • Develop pathways to help people navigate support systems such as welfare, food provision, training and employment opportunities – local authorities should work together and work with support systems and people experiencing food poverty, and should each take responsibility for these tools alongside their Local Welfare Assistance Schemes
  • Ensure that advisors, including Universal Support advisors, provide information about the wider food landscape including food banks, social supermarkets, and faith organisations. Every food and financial support provider should update information on a regular six monthly basis, to help keep the tools up to date

Aim 7: Develop more local supply chains, working with short supply chains and local labour markets. This would keep money within the local economy, jobs would be supported and created, and the multiplier effect means that the money would boost the local economy. *****

  • Anchor institutions should develop and implement local procurement policies to source supplies locally, including but not limited to food.

World Food Programme (2018). What is food security? Available at: https://www.wfp.org/node/359289

It has been suggested that we should also consider the role of trauma in food poverty, e.g.

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