The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, is calling on government to support Greater Manchester’s A Bed Every Night scheme as new figures show the number of people sleeping rough in the city-region has fallen 37% in a year and almost 50% in two.
The government’s annual rough sleeper statistics revealed that Greater Manchester’s figure, 151 people across all 10 boroughs, is the lowest in the city-region since 2015.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) said the decline is largely down to the A Bed Every Night scheme, which is delivered by a unique combination of the public, private, third and faith sectors and other local schemes.
Last week, the Prime Minister announced a £236m investment to support people sleeping rough, or at imminent risk, into accommodation, which GMCA said is being welcomed by Greater Manchester leaders as an endorsement of the A Bed Every Night model.
However, it comes after years of reductions in local authority funding that has seen rough sleeping increase by 488% in Greater Manchester since 2010.
GMCA said the government’s funding announcement must, therefore, be followed by significant investment that ensures people have access to housing that is affordable and ongoing support where needed.
Andy Burnham said: ‘Tonight in Greater Manchester around 450 people will be in shelters across our 10 boroughs – this is only happening because Greater Manchester has pulled together and raised funds to help people sleeping rough, alongside the goodwill of hundreds of volunteers.
‘These figures suggest our approach is working and that the country could end this crisis much more quickly and save lives if the government was to help us fund A Bed Every Night and adopt it more widely.
‘But we now also need much greater focus on the causes of homelessness – since 2016 housing benefit has not kept pace with rent increases. It is not enough for Government to end the freeze – they must now restore benefits to levels of actual rents.’
Initially a crisis response to the ‘Beast from the East’ cold weather snap in November 2018, A Bed Every Night was developed as a co-commissioned service with investment from Greater Manchester’s devolved health and social care services, homelessness, and prison and probation services.
Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford and Greater Manchester’s lead on Homelessness and Housing, said: ‘It is time Westminster acknowledged our pioneering work and made our policies the national strategy for tackling rough sleeping.
‘Homelessness is a crisis in this country but in Greater Manchester, we have a blueprint for success, one that has helped hundreds off the streets in just a few years.
‘But it is simply unsustainable for the government to expect local authorities and others, 10 years into a period of austerity and swingeing cuts to councils’ budgets, to fund solutions ourselves.
‘Government must also review their existing ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ policy and its impact on destitution and rough sleeping, properly address the four-year freeze on the Local Housing Allowances in the forthcoming Budget and put a stop to no-fault evictions.
‘In addition, the government’s ‘Right to Buy’ policy is a major contributory factor and must be suspended. Urgent action is required to tackle the real causes of the housing, homelessness and rough sleeping crisis.’
Photo Credit – A Bed Every Night