Thousands of children in the North West can’t access free school meals due to not meeting the criteria to be eligible.
It’s all been revealed as part of a shocking new study.
The new analysis, which has been carried out by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA), has discovered that every North West local authority has at least 1,500 school-aged children in poverty who are not eligible for free school meals because the qualifying criteria for them is “so restrictive”.
Here in Greater Manchester alone, every one of our region’s 10 boroughs has more than 3,000 children unable to access the crucial service.
Manchester is the local Council with the highest number, at 10,500 eligible children.
The next highest borough is Bolton at 5,500, with Oldham following close behind at 5,000, and Salford, Rochdale, and Wigan following that at 4,000, while at the other end of the spectrum, Stockport and Bury are the boroughs with the lowest number at 3,000.
These disheartening statistics – which have been published in a full report this week – is exactly why researchers are urging local leaders to do all they can to ensure more little Mancs can get free lunches during school hours.
While the report does highlight examples of local action being taken in the North West to increase access for families, it then crucially goes on to encouraging local leaders join national calls for expansion of free school meal entitlement.
However, researchers have conceded that it’s not just down to local Councils to make changes.
“The responsibility ultimately lies with the UK Government to expand provision of free school meals across the country to tackle classroom hunger,” CPAG and GMPA states in the report.
Reflecting on the findings of the new analysis, and calling on the Government to do more, Graham Whitham, who is the CEO at GMPA, commented: “Child poverty rates have been rising in the North West for a number of years, and families across the region have been hit hard by soaring living costs.
“At a time when every penny counts, it cannot be right that 100,000 North West kids in poverty can’t claim free school meals.
“Low-income families are under immense financial pressure at the moment, and introducing universal free school meals would mean they have that bit extra to spend on other bills and household essentials.
“It would also improve their children’s nutrition, ultimately helping them to learn, engage and thrive.”
Featured Image – gov.uk
A look at the plans to turn historic Ancoats mill with rich musical heritage into new apartment complex
Hodder + Partners have just revealed new CGIs and a more detailed look at the plans for their redevelopment of the longstanding Brunswick Mill in Ancoats which is set to become a brand-new apartment complex.
The proposals to turn the once creative space with decades of musical heritage into a new residential site were revealed back in 2021 and approved within just a few months, despite having been met with plenty of resistance given its history and cultural significance.
Nevertheless, Northern company Big Red Construction recently kicked off the £50+ million renovation on behalf of developer Arrowsmith Investments and the apartments are projected to be finished in 2026.
With that in mind, the architectural designers Hodder have just released a new look at what Brunswick Mill is set to look like once completed:
Set to transform the historic industrial mill-turned-creative space and music studios on the edge of New Islington into 153 new apartments, ranging from one, two and three-bedroom residences, the redevelopment will be spread across two phases.
In line with designs by Hodder + Partners, the initial phase involves converting the existing mill building and the construction of new four and seven-storey elements to accommodate the remaining 127 homes on the Bradford Road plot in Ancoats.
Big Red Construction, who are also working on the Peelers Yard building for CERT Property and Myprotein founder Oliver Cookson, are expected to complete phase one by the first quarter of 2026.
Here’s another look at what living space people are already buying up:
Along with Hodder + Partners as architects, the project team also consists of HW Consultancy who are covering structural aspects, Manchester firm Clancy for mechanical and electrical considerations, as well as AM Pyro as fire engineers.
With property company Orlando Reid serving as estate agents for the project, 42 out of the 153 apartments have already been sold off-plan, with managing director Baljit Arora describing it as “an exciting period for all parties involved and for the city of Manchester”.
This is just the latest chapter in the continued regeneration of the Ancoats and the New Islington areas, which remain two of the most heavily re-developed areas in the city centre and Greater Manchester as a whole. You can see other hot properties in and around the region HERE.