Manchester City Council

Update on homelessness challenge

An update report on the extensive work taking place to tackle homelessness in Manchester will be considered by a council scrutiny committee on Wednesday 5 September.

Manchester City Council’s Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee will hear about the work going on across many fronts to help prevent people becoming homeless in the first place and to provide urgent support to those who do.

This includes people in hostels and other temporary accommodation, people sofa surfing or staying temporarily with friends as well as people who are sleeping rough.

Nationally, there has been a reported increase of 169% in the number of rough sleepers.

Welfare changes, including the capping or freezing of Local Housing Allowance rates, have made it much harder for lower income households on benefits to access and stay in the private rented sector. Loss of private rented sector tenancies has become the number one reason why people become homeless in Manchester.

The Homeless Reduction Act (2017), which came into effect this April and widens access to homelessness advice and prevention services, has led to an increase in demand for such support. The Council has expanded its Housing Solutions Team, who help people at risk of homelessness to secure accommodation, but it is currently averaging 30 new approaches for assistance a day. Other local authorities nationally have reported similar challenges.

Temporary Accommodation and support

The Council is working to reduce the number of people in bed and breakfast temporary accommodation, which is costly and considered a last resort when other accommodation options are not available, by identifying alternative accommodation as well as investing in prevention. As of 15 August the number in B&B accommodation stood at 65 families and 115 single people. The homelessness service has recently established four B&B support workers who work with people in this type of accommodation to find them suitable alternative accommodation as quickly as possible.

So far this year (2018/19) the Council’s private sector rented team have helped 120 households to find private rented accommodation.

Manchester currently has 1,350 households in temporary accommodation – including around 390 outside the city due to a shortage of suitable accommodation – at a cost of more than £3m a year.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority is exploring a proposal to set up a Social Lettings Agency, covering all Greater Manchester authority areas, which would help people into affordable accommodation in the private rented sector.

The Council is also working with registered (social housing) providers to update the Manchester Move housing application system to automatically place bids on all suitable properties for homeless applications.

And in partnership with registered providers we are buying larger properties for families who need temporary accommodation with four or more bedrooms. The Council has already bought four with more being sourced.

The Council’s Shared Housing Scheme provides temporary accommodation for 160 residents in 14 houses across the city. A programme to refurbish every one of them is underway.

The Longford Centre, which opened in March this year, provides short term accommodation for single men, women and couples without children with low-to-medium support needs. The centre works intensively with residents to help them into work, training or education and to deal with any underlying issues – such as debt or health problems – which contributed to them becoming at risk of homelessness. The centre has already helped 87 people to secure suitable accommodation and make positive changes to their lives.

Rough Sleeping

Manchester has been awarded £418,000 in government funding to deliver projects to reduce the number of rough sleepers through a bid co-produced by the Council, voluntary and public sector organisations and people with experience of rough sleeping. These include schemes to provide outreach and housing options for young people, support for former prisoners who have become homeless and other outreach and support work.

During winter 2017/18 around 3,000 bed spaces for people sleeping rough were provided on a total of 35 freezing cold nights, as well as 20 bed spaces available every night. Cold weather provision for October 2018 to April 2019 is currently being reviewed, alongside GMCA and other partner organisations, with a view to finding more locations and funding to extend this offer.

A Government funded, Greater Manchester-wide Social Impact Bond scheme – with payment by results for making a positive difference to people’s lives – has funded engagement workers who have to date helped 46 people into accommodation.

Evening drop-in services for people aged 16 to 25 years are being provided seven days a week by Centrepoint and Coffee for Craig in the Northern Quarter and for over 25s by Barnabus in the Village. The latter is hoping to expand to five nights a week.

Resettlement services such as Stop Start Go (SSG) in Cheetham Hill and Humankind are providing wraparound support to help rough sleepers into temporary and ultimately permanent accommodation and to live independently.

An £8m Greater Manchester-wide Housing First pilot, which works on the principle that it is easier for people who have been homeless to address the other issues facing them from a stable foundation if their housing needs are treated as a priority, will go live in early 2019.

The Big Change fund, which supports individuals who are homeless to help them off the streets, has now raised more than £200,000 with cash allocated to individuals experiencing homelessness to provide a wide range of support – from training courses to clothes for a job interview to furniture for a new flat.

Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust are commissioning two extra mental health workers to work specifically with people who are sleeping rough and are working with accommodation hostels to make sure they are providing suitable environments. Council and partner frontline staff are being given extra training in mental health.

Next steps

A new Homeless Strategy 2018-2023 is being co-produced by a range of public, private and voluntary sector organisations, including the Council, and will be launched on World Homelessness Day on 10 October. This will also reflect co-ordinated work which is going on at a Greater Manchester level to tackle this issue.

Deputy Council leader Councillor Sue Murphy said: “Homelessness remains a significant challenge, and that challenge is being made all the more difficult by national welfare changes which are causing more people to lose their homes and legislative changes which are increasing demand for our support services.

“But it’s a challenge which the city collectively is rising to – the Council working closely with a whole range of partners through the Manchester Homeless Partnership – and while people sleeping rough remains a highly visible issue we also must not lose sight of the fact that people are being supported into accommodation and to move forwards in their lives. There are a great many dedicated and caring people doing a lot of hard work to give this structured support.

“We’ve always been clear that the issue is so complex that it can only be successfully addressed by a range of organisations working closely together. Our new HomelessStrategy will have an increased emphasis on preventing people becoming homeless in the first place as well as ensuring that they spend as little time as possible homelessand never experience it again.”

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