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New action plan on homelessness

06/10/2017

£1.8million investment at the heart of new measures announced, as further £3.8m agreed with central Government to help those most in need.

HUNDREDS of rough sleepers across Greater Manchester will be helped to build a life away from the streets and doorways of Greater Manchester thanks to wide-ranging measures which have been announced, including £1.8m of new funding.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the money, one of just eight social impact bonds (SIB) approved and the largest outside of London, will help to provide accommodation, intensive health support and improvements in the way homeless people are encouraged into education or work for up to 200 people.

The news comes just two weeks after the Mayor called on all public bodies in Greater Manchester to work together to end homelessness and rough sleeping with immediate action.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester will receive £3.8 million to develop a new city region-wide approach to preventing homelessness and reducing rough sleeping as part of a landmark package agreed with central Government.

On Friday 6 October, representatives from across the public sector attended a meeting of Greater Manchester’s Reform Board to suggest wide ranging, practically-focused actions that could be taken to ensure homelessness and rough sleeping are immediately reduced.

These actions include an immediate call to the Government to halt the roll out of the Universal Credit benefit scheme, which all members of the Reform Board agreed was fundamental to reducing rough sleeping and homelessness across the city region.

The Mayor said: “This is not a political point. I am speaking for the entire board – the entire public sector in Greater Manchester – when I make this plea to the Prime Minister and Government. You must suspend the roll out of the Universal Credit benefit. It was a unanimous view in the meeting that Universal Credit will make the homeless and rough sleeping problem here dramatically worse. I say in all sincerity, please listen and put it on hold. If it goes ahead as planned we will see a much greater problem unfold in front of our eyes.”

In addition, the following actions were suggested:

From the Greater Manchester Combined Authority

The announcement of a £1.8million Social Impact Bond (SIB) – a Government-backed bond using money provided by the private sector to deliver improvements including:

  • Finding and keeping a home
  • Making sure support is provided to find employment, education or training
  • Providing intensive support around people on an individual basis
  • Enabling people to access specialist support services around mental health and addiction

It is expected that the new service will be on the streets of Greater Manchester by the end of October, helping people during the critical winter months.

From the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

  • Ensure those who wish to be registered with their local GP practice are registered with a proper patient record
  • Ensure no patient is discharged from hospital onto the street
  • Support the development of outreach teams in all localities offering screening, health advice and health support to those living in hostels, refuges or other temporary accommodation
  • Joined up commissioning and provision of targeted specialist support services such as mental health, substance misuse and wider primary care. For example, implementing arrangements to ensure that homeless people can access free eye tests, where necessary taking a flexible approach to the proof of identity/eligibility set out in the current paperwork

From Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

A commitment to opening all 41 fire stations across Greater Manchester to be used to support homeless people, partnering with community and voluntary groups to provide a range of services such as food and drink

The group includes the Chief Executives of all 10 Greater Manchester councils, as well as the region’s chief health officer, Greater Manchester housing providers, the County Fire Officer, clinical commissioning leaders, mental health providers, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the Chief Constable.

There was wide ranging support also for a number of projects and ideas which would tackle the issue. These included:

  • Focusing on preventative work which would ensure people do not become homeless if it can be avoided including an early warning system
  • Creation of a Greater Manchester Good Landlord scheme to regulate private landlords better in a bid to improve the standard of rented homes and ensure landlords are monitored
  • Consider one bedroom accommodation as part of the rethink on the spatial framework – particularly what type of homes are needed and where they need to be built
  • Be tougher on people dealing psychoactive substances on the streets and tougher on people who are begging but not homeless

The group also agreed that consistent data around the numbers of homeless people was needed but that more comprehensive research into individuals and the reasons they were homeless had to be part of a new approach. The Reform Board also wanted to look at how they would deliver improvements and how their work could be held to account.

The Mayor said: “I have made ending rough sleeping in Greater Manchester a personal priority and these developments represent a major breakthrough on that journey. This new money will provide real solutions to help people to get off the streets and find warmth, safety and a better life with work.

“But while it is major progress, there is still a huge challenge in front of us. There is good work already being done across Greater Manchester by our councils and others but with so many people on the streets we always have to challenge ourselves to go further.

“This is a crisis unfolding before our eyes and will only be solved if we work as one and bring the contribution of public, private and voluntary sectors together. We have to think differently and try new ideas and ways of improving the lives of hundreds of people who don’t have a home to call their own.”

The Mayor continues to put 15 per cent of his salary into his Homelessness Fund which is supporting organisations who support homeless people and rough sleepers to get off the streets. The fund has already provided grants of well over £30,000 including support for a 15-bed homeless hostel in Cheetham Hill.

If you wish to donate to the fund, you can do so online through www.gofundme.com/gm-mayoral-fund