Following publication of a recent article in the Manchester Evening News regarding the Government's 'Everyone In' policy on homelessness and rough sleeping during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has written to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Read the full text of the letter below:
HOMELESSNESS: EVERYONE IN POLICY
You will have seen a news story in the Manchester Evening News of a report which went to our GM Covid Emergency Committee earlier this week on homelessness and the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ policy.
I wanted to write to you to set out clearly the Greater Manchester position on this.
Greater Manchester has worked hard to fulfil ‘Everyone In’, ensuring people who were rough sleeping or in shared sleeping arrangements at the time of lockdown were provided with self-contained accommodation reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection and spread. We made over 1,500 placements under this policy.
In the last few weeks, your Department has made it clear that our councils should ‘draw a line’ under the policy and start moving people on from the short term accommodation that has been stood up, much of it in hotels. As we have around 800 people still in accommodation, I am sure you will appreciate that this is an extremely challenging task that will take some time to deliver.
This is why the policy paper went to this week’s committee. We will be working hard to give everyone in accommodation a forward offer and we need to begin to work through those options now.
More generally, I would make the following observations on this policy to date:
First, I have to say that the policy name is misleading. At the start of the outbreak, we were encouraged to do what we could to develop an ‘Everyone In’ approach and that we would be covered for the costs we incurred. We took that to mean anyone who might otherwise be sleeping rough during lockdown. However, it was some weeks later that your Department explained to us that ‘Everyone In’ only covers people identified as homeless pre-lockdown – not those made homeless during lockdown. We identified 1,000 people before who we thought would need our help but have ended up supporting over 1,500 people. If we hadn’t taken the decision to support those 500 extra people, many would have ended up sleeping rough. Calling this policy ‘Everyone In’ at the start only to define what that means later down the line has unfairly left councils facing unfunded costs.
Second, even if we accept the Department’s definition of the policy, there is a concern amongst our councils that the level of funding provided is insufficient to meet costs. Councils are meant to pay for ‘Everyone In’ from general funding allocated to councils by the Government. However, as you know, deprivation weighting was removed from the allocation formula for the latest round of funding. As a result, 9 out of our 10 councils saw a significant reduction in funding. Given that levels of homelessness are linked to deprivation, I find it hard to understand how the Department can claim to have fully funded the ‘Everyone In’ policy even on its own limited definition.
Third, as part of this policy, the Government has made no allowance for those people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). Again, it is hard to see how this policy decision is consistent with an ‘Everyone In’ policy. We have been funding this element of provision through the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s Charity. But this is not a long-term solution and we urgently need a change of policy to enable funding of those with NRPF.
For the reasons given above, if we are to ensure a reduction in homelessness coming out of this crisis, and move people from the current short-term placements to more sustainable accommodation, it will need significant funding and policy change. The challenge of stepping down this accommodation without sufficient funding support, alongside the on-going risk of COVID-19, is significant.
We need certainty that funding will be made available for those who have become homeless during the period of lockdown and a more flexible timescale to move people on from their current temporary accommodation.
I would be grateful if you could provide urgent clarity over the status of the ‘Everyone In’ policy and whether the advice from your Department to begin to step down the emergency accommodation reflects your views. Further, I believe you should also provide funding to cover those who have become homeless during lockdown as well as those who were identified as homeless before, honouring the spirit of an Everyone In approach.
I don’t doubt your personal commitment to making progress on homelessness but, as I hope you can see, there is considerable uncertainty about the current position. I would be grateful for an urgent response so that we can continue to move people on and plan the next steps with certainty.
Mayor of Greater Manchester
Article Published: 15/05/2020 18:03 PM