Forty places pledged to tackle rough sleeping

Mayor Andy Burnam at The Brick in June
Mayor Andy Burnam at The Brick in June
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Forty rough sleepers in the borough could be helped back into accommodation as part of a far-reaching bid to tackle homelessness.

Council bosses are joining fellow members of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to develop a countywide approach to the controversial issue.

Authorities in the region have received joint funding as part of the Entrenched Rough Sleepers Social Bond initiative to make progress with the problem.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Wigan was second only to Manchester city centre when it came to the prevalence of rough sleepers.

An estimated 26 regularly spent their nights out of doors in 2016, according to a survey, compared to just three in 2015.

Under Wigan’s portion of the deal, The Brick has been sub-contracted by housing charity Shelter, which should see 40 social housing properties deployed for rough sleepers and “personalised tailored support” offered to those in need.

It has been confirmed there will be no loss of rental income, as a result of the move.

Announcing the commitment, Coun Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for housing and welfare, said: “This supports both the principles of The Deal, the aims of the locality plan and the council’s increased duties, which start on April 1, 2018, through the Homeless Reduction Act.”

Stuart Cowley, the council’s adult social and health director, has highlighted that the borough’s homelessness prevention efforts had been awarded the government’s ‘gold standard’.

This has seen more organisations than ever before now feeding into the annual rough sleepers survey, said Mr Cowley.

The National Audit Office also criticised Whitehall’s commitment to the homelessness dilemma, against a backdrop of the national rough sleepers count increasing by 134 per cent and a 60 per cent rise recorded in the number of people placed in temporary accommodation.

The Brick is already involved in providing its own 20-place unit, using sheltered accommodation, launching a £75,000 appeal for the purpose.

Rents had gone up at the same time as household income, coming from benefits, has declined, according to the spending watchdog.

Housing allowance reforms were held to blame, with ministers blasted for failing to review the position, despite mounting evidence of disparities.