18 November 2017   |  Last Updated 18-12-2014 06:21

      Thursday 18, December 2014

      Is fall in inflation good news for Mancunians?

       

      Greater Manchester has for a long time been a region known as one of the worst in the country for poverty. But the news that in the UK inflation hit a 12-year-low last month offers hope to those in need.

      Back in 2011 it was announced that Manchester was the city with the highest child poverty ratings in the UK. It was said that over 25,000 of Greater Manchester’s youngsters were living in ‘severe poverty’. In 2013 it was announced by the Greater Manchester Poverty Commission (GMPC) that 1 in 5 kids in Manchester were living in extreme poverty and according to Manchester food poverty this number now stands at 38%.

      Back in October of this year, research by the End child poverty campaign showed that one in two children that live in socially deprived areas are living in poverty. According to the government, it is aiming to eradicate child poverty in this country by 2020; but Save the children estimated that by 2020, the number of children living in poverty in the UK will have topped 5 million.

      On the website of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) the charity states that ‘child poverty blights childhoods’ which is a sentiment echoed by the charity Shelter. The charity states that children in unfit and overcrowded accommodation are up to 10 times more likely to develop meningitis, and twice as likely to leave school without GCSE’s.

      The CPAG says that ‘explanations which put poverty down to drug and alcohol dependency, family breakdown, poor parenting, or a culture of worklessness are not supported by the facts’. So of those unlucky enough to be living in poverty in Greater Manchester, who is likely to feel the benefit of this financial gain?

      Melvyn Newton, a hub leader of one of Manchester’s food cycle centres, believes that government policies like the ‘bedroom tax’ are far more impactful than a slight reduction in inflation.

      Mr Newton states that ‘ongoing impact of bedroom tax means the poor are galloping toward greater poverty and headline economic news is irrelevant to them’. He also lists frozen benefits, falling wages and zero-hour contracts as some of the key problems that people on the breadline in Manchester are facing.

      Despite the apparent decrease in the level of inflation, Mr Newton said ‘We understand from our conversations with colleagues who run food banks that uptake is increasing’. He said that: ‘food banks work for a small number of people, they are accessible to a small number of people’ and also called for more schemes to be set up for people in need of money for basics like food.

      Other schemes are set to be put into place to help those most in need of money. It was announced earlier this week that London would have its first ‘Social supermarket’ opened. The scheme will offer local residents on income support the chance to purchase food from mainstream shops like Tesco, Asda and Morrison’s for a 70% discount.

      Greater Manchester’s Chamber of economics released a statement this week which stated that ‘inflation is always and everywhere an international phenomenon, at least for the moment, until wages start to rise that is’. Though according to the statement 'utility bills continue to rise, up by 3.2%' good news for people on the breadline is that, due largely to a reduction in fuel costs; food prices and transport are both down; food by 10% on the previous year.

      By Declan Fisher

        •