THE MAYOR of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has hailed the city-region’s A Bed Every Night scheme, which has helped 1,400 people who had been sleeping rough and supported 480 of those people – over a third – into more suitable housing solution.
In a speech hosted by the Fabian Society, the Mayor outlined a host of measures that demonstrate how Greater Manchester is leading the way in proposing the most comprehensive package of action to tackle homelessness anywhere in the country.
The Mayor also called on the government to declare a homelessness emergency and embrace the city-region’s comprehensive plan to tackle rough sleeping as the predominant national strategy.
In a speech delivered exactly two years after his first day as Mayor of the city-region, Andy Burnham said:
“Last week Parliament voted, rightly, to declare a climate change emergency. But where is the declaration of a homelessness emergency?
“Surely, when hundreds are dying every year on British streets, that is exactly what is needed. People in doorways is in danger of being accepted as just an inevitable and unchangeable fact of modern life. It can’t be allowed to happen.
“This is a humanitarian crisis is of our own making – and entirely fixable. We need to approach it with a new mind-set and a new urgency.”
The Mayor is determined that Greater Manchester’s ground-breaking A Bed Every Night scheme, which was established last autumn to support every person sleeping rough on the city-region’s streets, will be extended by 12 months.
Speaking at homelessness charity, The Mustard Tree, Andy Burnham added:
“It is undeniable that, in the six months it has been running, it has made a positive difference. Overall, 1,423 separate individuals have been accommodated through A Bed Every Night. Of those, 480 people – over a third – have moved on to a more suitable housing solution.
“I have long felt that an effective respite service could pay for itself in part or even in full by reducing the call on other public services. If we can prove that, it would be a game-changer in the homelessness debate.
“Crisis has estimated that, if one person is left to sleep rough for a year, it can cost public services over £20,000 in emergency support. At £32 per person per night, it costs £11,680 for someone to stay for a year in A Bed Every Night. When you face up to the fact that it costs public bodies a lot of public money to do nothing about rough sleeping, it creates a moral imperative for more urgent action.
“We need a society that picks people up as soon as they fall rather than picks up the pieces after they have been left shattered for months.”
A Bed Every Night remains the most ambitious and joined-up approach to tackling rough sleeping in the country. A revised system will now continue to run into the summer and beyond, a second phase involving a broader range of organisations both based both in Greater Manchester and nationally.
Now Andy Burnham is calling for Government to support other parts of the country in embracing Greater Manchester’s approach as the single best strategy to tackling the humanitarian crisis that is rough sleeping.
In his speech, Andy Burnham explained:
“The reason why I call for the declaration of a homelessness emergency to tackle rough sleeping is that it would give a clear signal to public bodies everywhere to prioritise this issue and start acting preventatively.
“There is no reason at all why other areas can’t set up a similar service. Devolution has made it easier for us to focus but it is not a pre-requisite.
“There is evidence that a small percentage of people have come to Greater Manchester because of the higher level of provision compared to other areas.
“The answer to that is not to scale back what we are doing but for other places to do the same.”
The Mayor also restated his manifesto commitment to end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020, seven years ahead of the national Government target, and said he would continue to contribute 15% of his salary to the cause.
A Bed Every Night launched at the start of November as a pledge to deliver a bed plus targeted support for every person sleeping rough in Greater Manchester every night over the forthcoming winter. Night shelters have been open in every one of the city-region’s 10 boroughs ever since, offering a comfortable bed plus advice and support to every person accommodated.
Individuals continue to move out of A Bed Every Night accommodation and into more permanent solutions, similar to the places offered by the existing Social Impact Bond (SIB), a roughly £2 million programme that has already assisted 222 of the city-region’s previously most entrenched rough sleepers.
Earlier in the year, Great Places Housing Group was announced as leading a Housing First consortium assisting up to 400 people into their own homes with support over the next three years, backed by £7.6 million of Government funding.
There remains a recognition that the issue of homelessness is wider than just the visible issue of rough sleeping. Evictions from the private rented sector are one of the biggest causes of family homelessness in the UK. In his speech, the Mayor addressed this directly by announcing a new a major new intervention to improve Private Rented Sector.
The Mayor committed to creating both a Greater Manchester Ethical Lettings Agency and a Good Landlord Charter.
The agency aims to improve security for tenants by creating a management system that focuses on creating sustainable tenancies and not profits. It also prioritises opening up the private rented sector to those who are excluded for reasons including low income, high up-front costs, are in receipt of benefits or possess a poor credit history.
Established alongside, the Good Landlord Charter will deliver on a Mayoral manifesto commitment to transform renting in the city-region. Greater Manchester landlords will be encouraged to subscribe to the scheme, in doing do demonstrating their commitment to providing a high standard of service and accommodation for private renters.
Please see the full text of Andy Burnham’s speech here.
Article Published: 08/05/2019 11:22 AM