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Greater Manchester becomes first city-region to support campaign to make food a legal right

‘The GMCA is committed to recognising the Right to Food as an essential human right’

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Mayor of Greater Manchester/Facebook & Mangopear Creative/Unsplash

Greater Manchester is the first city-region to support the campaign which calls for the ‘Right to Food’ to become a legal requirement. 

The campaign, launched by Fans Supporting Foodbanks, calls for a change in the law to make access to food a legal right for all in the UK. 

Estimates show that more than 10m people in the UK are living in food poverty, disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities, disabled and older people. 

Since the pandemic began, recent analysis suggests that an additional 4,500 children across Greater Manchester have now crossed the poverty threshold and are eligible for free school meals. 

Data from the Department of Work and Pensions also demonstrates the number of households who receive Universal Credit has increased by 69% from 149,638 in February 2020 to 252,609 now.

These startling figures are early warnings of the social impact of Covid-19.

A letter, co-written by the Greater Manchester Leaders, will be sent to the National Food Strategy Lead calling for 10m people currently living in food poverty to be at the heart of the strategy urging for ‘Right to Food’ to become enshrined in legislation.

The legislation is not a solution to poverty on its own, but the change in law would make it necessary for a range of public bodies to take action and ensure everyone is able to access essential food, improving the quality of people’s lives across the city-region.

The Right to Food campaign has built on what Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has highlighted in recent months. 

The campaign is being led by Fans Supporting Foodbanks with a petition launched that now has over 43,000 signatures. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has only magnified the stark and existing inequalities across the country. People struggling to self-isolate and feed their families at the same time as well as the growing queues of people accessing foodbanks over the last year are examples of this, and just shouldn’t be acceptable in 2021.

“The Greater Manchester Combined Authority is committed to recognising the Right to Food as an essential human right, and backs Fans Supporting Foodbanks call for it to be enshrined in national legislation. We welcome a review of the UK’s food system through the National Food Strategy – but the 10m people suffering from food poverty must be placed at its centre.”

Councillor Elise Wilson, GMCA Lead for Economy and Business, said: “Almost a year into the pandemic we are starting to see families really struggling, reflected in the number of additional children requiring free school meals and people accessing Universal Credit.

“Legislation to make food a legal right in the UK would ensure everyone would be able to access food and help to alleviate the hardships many people are currently facing in order to provide meals for their families. This is why we’re joining the call for the Right to Food to become a legal requirement and Greater Manchester leaders will be writing a letter to the National Food Strategy Lead outlining our position.”

Alex Timperley, of MCFC Fans Foodbank Support, said: “Enshrining a Right to Food into law will be transformative. There is a food poverty epidemic on the streets of towns and cities across the country, no more so than in Greater Manchester. We’re proud to live in a place which has said no to child poverty, no to skipping meals, no to the vulnerable elderly having to choose between heating and eating.

“This is a grassroots campaign from football fans across the UK who want to build our communities from the ground up. A Right to Food is only one part of what must be a wider movement to end poverty, but it is a big step which will go a long way to ensuring people can live their lives with dignity. We hope that other cities, councils and regions will follow the lead of Greater Manchester.”

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Fred Perry is opening a huge new flagship store in Afflecks

Who’s excited for this?

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Afflecks / Jody Hartley 

In some good news for our city centre, Fred Perry has announced that it will be opening a huge new store in the Northern Quarter.

The new flagship store will be located at the bottom of the Afflecks building, and is welcome news following the recent closure of high street stalwarts like Debenhams and Topshop.

Fred Perry will be moving from its current location on Police Street to open the new, bigger flagship store on the corner of Oldham Street and Church Street.

The site will see the iconic British brand move into the 2,820 sq ft unit this summer, joining Manchester’s legendary Afflecks which is owned by Bruntwood Works.

Afflecks / Jody Hartley 

Fred Perry was co-founded by the Stockport-born tennis champion of the same name back in the late 1940s, and has gained worldwide fame for its laurel wreath logo and polo shirts.

Richard Gilmore, managing director at Fred Perry, said: “We’re delighted to be moving to the Northern Quarter. The area has no shortage of strong associations to ground-breaking music and subcultural style – something we continue to champion.

“Our retail spaces aren’t just shops, and we’re looking forward to sharing what we do with the Manchester community as part of an exciting continuation of Fred Perry and Afflecks’ mutual commitment to heritage and innovation.

“We now have a space we can be truly proud of in Manchester.”

Charles Roffey / Flickr

Chris Middleton, senior retail manager at Bruntwood Works, added: “Fred Perry is a true icon, and we’re delighted to be welcoming them to the ground floor of our famous Afflecks building.

“The addition of this much-loved brand will bolster the retail community in the Northern Quarter neighbourhood, building on Oldham Street’s offering as a lifestyle-led shopping destination.

“It feels particularly exciting to be announcing the news after what has been a challenging twelve months for retail, as we look forward to a bright future for Manchester city centre.”

The new Fred Perry store will open this summer, although an exact date has yet to be released. 

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People on working tax credits will get a £500 one-off payment, Rishi Sunak confirms

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Number 10/Flickr

Brits on tax credits get a one-off benefits payment of £500, Rishi Sunak reveals in budget. 

Outlined in the budget, Sunak explained that a £20 weekly increase in universal credit will extend for a further six months.

The chancellor explains that by the way Working Tax Credits system works people will not be able to receive the extra £20 weekly. 

Instead, people will benefit from a £500 one-off payment.

Number 10 / Flickr

Mr Sunak said: “To support low-income households, the Universal Credit uplift of £20 a week will continue for a further six months, well beyond the end of this national lockdown

“We’ll provide Working Tax Credit claimants with equivalent support for the next six months.

“Because of the way that system works operationally, we’ll need to do so with a one-off payment of £500.”

The £500 tax credit boost will run in the same way that the Universal Credit is paid – automatically. 

Lots of people have switched from the old ‘Tax Credit’ to the new ‘Universal Credit’ system. Anyone who hasn’t yet been transferred across will now be eligible for this new one-off payment. 

The number of people claiming universal credit in the UK has doubled since the start of the pandemic, reaching 6 million people at the start of this year. 

The extra benefit support is welcomed but many are raising concerns that six months is not long enough.

Sunak also revealed in today’s budget that furlough will be extended until September but employers will have to pay 10% of the employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September. 

You can see a round-up of all the key points from the budget here

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What Rishi Sunak’s new budget means for people in Greater Manchester

Everything you need to know

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alvariummcr & flokmcr/Instagram

Rishi Sunak has said he wants to be honest about the government’s plans for fixing the public finances.

The chancellor says there has been ‘acute damage’ to the economy, with more than 700,000 people losing jobs and the economy shrinking by 10% – the largest fall in 300 years.

Borrowing has also been as high as during wartime.

He said: “It’s going to take this country, and the whole world, a long time to recover from this extraordinary situation.”

Here are the key points from his 2021 budget announcement….

The Bay Horse Tavern/Facebook

Furlough

  • Sunak explains that 1.8 million fewer people are expected to be out of work than previously thought, with the peak at 6.5% down from the forecasted peak of 11.9%.
  • Furlough is set to be extended until the end of September this year, however, firms will be asked to contribute 10% of employee’s wages in July and 20% in August and September as the scheme is gradually phased out.
  • A fourth grant worth 80% of average trading profits up to £7,500 covering February to April that will help self-employed people.
  • The £20 increase in universal credit will extend for six months

Business Support

  • Total cash support to businesses has reached £25bn. A further £5bn restart grant has now been confirmed to help companies get going after lockdown.
  • Hospitality and leisure businesses will pay no business rates for three months, then discounted for the remaining nine months of the year by two-thirds.
  • The 5% VAT cut will be extended to the end of September and gradually increased at 12.5% for six months before returning to the normal rate in April 2022.

David Dixon/Geograph

Housing

  • The stamp duty holiday will be extended on properties up to £500,000 to the end of June. It will return to normal levels from October 1st.
  • Mortgage guarantees were also confirmed to help first-time buyers access 95% mortgages, with just 5% deposits.

Public Finances

  • The government will take a ‘fair’ approach to ‘fixing the public finances’ the chancellor confirms.
  • There will be no increase in national insurance, income tax or VAT.
  • The personal allowance will remain at £12,750 until 2026 and the higher rate will increase to £50,270 next year.
  • Inheritance tax threshold, pensions lifetime allowance, annual exempt allowance from capital gains tax and VAT exemption thresholds will all be frozen.
  • New minimum wage rates come into force in England on April 1st. Basic rate workers will see a 2.2% increase, with the National Living Wage rising to £8.91 an hour.

David Dixon/Geograph

Borrowing

  • The budget deficit will reach £355billion this year (17% of GDP) – the highest level in peacetime.
  • Sunak said: “It’s going to be the work of many governments over many decades to pay it back, just as it would be irresponsible to withdraw support too soon, it would also be irresponsible to allow our future borrowing and debt to rise unchecked.”

Growth

  • The chancellor explains that the economy will recover more quickly than previously thought.
  • GDP will grow by 4% this year and 7.3% next year according to official forecasts.

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