THE Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham has called on the Prime Minister to immediately step up action to tackle homelessness, revealing that the city region has managed to cut rough sleeping by 37% over the last year.
“We still have much further to go on our mission to end the situation of people sleeping rough in Greater Manchester, but this is real progress,” Burnham said. “It has been achieved by the hard work of hundreds of caring people in our councils, charities and faith communities and the generosity of the Greater Manchester public. It shows the power of this place when we work as one.
“But we now need much more help from the Government. We need an end to policies which are forcing people onto the streets — such as the freeze on local housing allowance — and more support to extend schemes like A Bed Every Night right across the country.
“A policy of ending rough sleeping by 2027 is simply not good enough. People are dying on British streets now for want of a home and Greater Manchester is proving that, with urgent action, lives can be saved this winter.”
The Mayor’s office yesterday released the latest rough sleeper count, which took place in November, showing that the number of people sleeping rough has fallen by 90 from 241 in November 2018 to 151 this year.
Manchester saw a drop of over a quarter (26%) while Trafford now records only one person sleeping rough.
On the back of these figures, the Mayor has repeated his call on the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson to take immediate action to end the “humanitarian crisis” of people sleeping rough. These steps include:
- Releasing the extra £54 million for sleeping rough announced in the last Parliament to towns and cities now. Greater Manchester says it will use the money to help even more people sleeping rough through the A Bed Every Night scheme now and into 2020
- Ending the freeze on the Local Housing Allowance with immediate effect and ensure it keeps pace with the increase in local rents
- Ending no-fault evictions and announce this in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech
- Abolish the no recourse to public funds policy
Since Greater Manchester gained its devolution in 2017, the combined authority has undertaken various initiatives to tackle rough sleeping. In that time, it claims the number of people sleeping rough has dropped 44% in two years, after increasing nearly every year since 2010.
In England as a total, the number of people sleeping rough increased 269% between 2010-2017 before falling by 1.5% in 2018.
The combined authority’s initiatives include:
- A Bed Every Night – a scheme introduced by the Mayor to provide a bed and personal support on an emergency basis to people sleeping rough who don’t qualify for statutory provision. So far it has supported nearly 3,000 people with 30% moving into more secure accommodation
- Rough Sleeper Initiative – a Government initiative to eliminate sleeping rough by 2027 which has funded outreach teams to develop local tailored interventions
- Housing First – supports people with multiple and complex needs out of sleeping rough into a home with ongoing wrap around support. There are currently 100 people on the programme with a further 320 over the next two years
“Tackling the rough sleeping crisis has been one of the most challenging issues faced by Manchester City Council in recent times. While it is positive to see a decline in the number of people sleeping rough, we cannot be complacent and must continue to affect real change in our city,” said Councillor Sue Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council.
“We have, through the Manchester Homelessness Partnership, forged valuable links with organisations, charities and volunteer groups who all work towards the goal of ending rough sleeping. Any success is to be shared with them and reflects the priority given to this issue and the scale of resources which we have invested in this area.
“This is a snapshot of the homelessness situation in Manchester, and there is still work to be done in the coming years. We now need to repeat our calls to Central Government to treat homelessness seriously.”