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Greater Manchester comes together to tackle rough sleeping in unique partnership

21/11/2017

In a series of UK firsts to address homelessness, Greater Manchester has come together to announce radical proposals to save lives as winter draws in.

·         HUNDREDS OF ROUGH SLEEPERS TO GET INTENSIVE SUPPORT TO REBUILD LIVES THROUGH “HOUSING FIRST”

·         PUBLIC, PRIVATE & VOLUNTARY SECTORS SET TO COME TOGETHER IN UK FIRST

·         LIFE-SAVING MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS TO COLD WEATHER ACTION

·         HOMELESS GAIN FREE ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS TO HELP GET FOOT ON HOUSING LADDER

The ground-breaking proposals have been made possible by strong partnership working between Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the 10 councils, public services, business and the third sector.

Hundreds of rough sleepers will have the chance to start a new life off the streets in a £1.8m scheme which is to be agreed between private funders, housing providers, and the public and voluntary sectors.

The newly-established Greater Manchester Homes Partnership will work with ‘entrenched rough sleepers’ – people who have regularly slept rough over the past two years and/or are well known to homelessness services – over a three-year period.

They will be given intensive support to be able to sustain a tenancy in one of 270 homes to be made available by 15 of Greater Manchester’s housing providers and two private rented sector partners. They will also be given the concentrated emotional and practical support they need to access the right kind of targeted health, training and employment services.

It is a UK first, as it represents the broadest range of partners that have ever come together for a government-backed initiative of this type, and it’s the biggest of its type outside London.

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester’s councils have radically changed the way in which the city-region provides emergency support in cold weather. Greater Manchester has now become the first major metropolitan area in the country where emergency help will be available to rough sleepers as soon as the temperature drops below zero. Currently, local councils have a legal requirement to provide enhanced support following three nights of sub-zero temperatures. 

But – following a ground-breaking agreement between all 10 councils – these emergency measures will now come into place after just one night of cold weather. It’s believed to be the first time that all councils in a major metropolitan area have come together to set such an agreed standard. 

Homelessness experts believe this new approach will save lives because rough sleepers will get emergency help much earlier than the legal minimum requires. Specific measures are decided locally in each borough, but include opening emergency homeless centres where beds, showers and support is provided.

Local councils have also agreed to grant homeless people free access to documents which are necessary to secure housing, such as birth certificates.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “As winter draws in, it is vital that the right support is there for people who are sleeping on our streets. These measures are ground-breaking and genuinely innovative. It shows that Greater Manchester is leading the way when it comes to helping those in the direst of need.

“This also shows the power of partnership as none of this would be possible without the leadership which has been shown by our 10 local councils, other public bodies, housing providers and both the private and voluntary sectors. These measures will save lives this winter, and are an important step towards ending rough sleeping in Greater Manchester for good.

“In terms of the cold weather policy which has been agreed across Greater Manchester, I would call on other city-regions to follow suit and follow the great example set here.”

John Ryan, who runs Shelter’s Manchester hub, said: “As another cold winter bites and the number of people sleeping on our streets continues to grow, we are delighted to be part of this exciting new partnership to tackle the issue. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to work collaboratively with others, to reach hundreds of people who are struggling across the city, and we can’t wait to get started.”   

Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “I welcome this ground-breaking announcement ahead of the coldest months of the year.  I’m proud that Greater Manchester is coming together to tackle the issue of rough sleeping head on and find solutions for those who desperately need it.”

The Greater Manchester Homes Partnership comprises a consortium has been put together by One Manchester and Trafford Housing Trust, two Greater Manchester-based housing providers, and Bridges Fund Management, which manages funds on behalf of a range of impact-driven investors, including Greater Manchester Pension Fund.

Dave Power, Group Chief Executive of One Manchester, said: “I know I’m not alone in being shocked to see the numbers of people sleeping rough rising in Manchester so we absolutely must pull together to address this. 

“Our ultimate aim is to ensure that people who have found themselves back on the street time and again have the chance to start a new life in the right kind of home with the right support.

“This funding enables us to do this by responding to the individual circumstances which lead people to a life of sleeping rough. This is a hugely important initiative and we are ready to take action, now. Thanks to this collaborative approach we have an opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives by providing the right kind of tailored support.”

This project will run for three years and is the largest, outside London, of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s ‘Entrenched Rough Sleeping’ social impact bonds. Social Impact bonds are a commissioning tool that can enable organisations to deliver outcomes contracts and make funding for services conditional on achieving results. Social Investors pay for the project at the start, and then receive payments based on the results achieved by the project.

Andrew Levitt, Partner and Head of Social Impact Bonds at Bridges, said: "Outcomes-based contracts are the best way to work with this very vulnerable group, because they give charities the freedom to take a very flexible approach – tailoring their support to the individual’s abilities and needs, as well as the changing dynamics of the local housing market. We’re passionate about this programme and the impact it can have in changing the lives of rough sleepers."

The programme will provide the kind of wraparound support needed to stop people from losing tenancies and get suitable accommodation. Delivery partners Shelter, Great Places and The Brick will ensure the right support is available at the right time.

Shelter’s John Ryan added: “The Greater Manchester Homes Partnership is a great opportunity for us to work collaboratively with a range of partners to reach even more people across the city who urgently need our support. The partnership will help end the devastating scourge of street homelessness, which is one of the Mayor’s priorities, and we are delighted to be part of it.”

The consortium has been selected as the preferred bidders for the bond, which will go to the December meeting of the GMCA for approval.