THE MAYOR of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has 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 in Manchester to public, private and third sector leaders, the Mayor will outline a host of measures that demonstrate how Greater Manchester is leading the way in delivering the most comprehensive package of action to tackle homelessness anywhere in the country.
In the speech, Burnham will call on Government to mirror the recent importance placed on the debate on climate change with a pledge to prioritise tackling rough sleeping by declaring it a homelessness emergency, in the wake of at least 449 deaths on UK streets in 2017/18.
In a speech delivered two years to the day of his first day as Mayor of the city-region, Andy is expected to say:
“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 mindset 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.
Andy Burnham will say:
“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 have 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.
Speaking at Mustard Tree, a homelessness charity in Manchester city centre, Andy is expected to add:
“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.”
In his speech, the Mayor is also expected to restate his manifesto commitment to end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by 2020, seven years ahead of the national Government target, and will reveal his intention to continue to contribute 15% of his salary to the cause.