Wigan Council pledges homeless help
Wigan Council has reinterated its commitment to tackling rough sleeping as national figures show rising numbers of people dying on the streets.
The town hall, which has been recognised across Britain for excellent practice on homelessness, spoke as shocking statistics showed deaths among those without a roof over their heads have more than doubled in five years.
Figures for rough sleeping deaths in the borough are not currently available but the council said services for homeless people have come under increasing demand.
This mirrors anecdotal evidence by organisations on the frontline of spiralling demand and greater numbers of deaths and comes as Leigh MP Jo Platt demanded action from Westminster to support local authorities more and charities.
Homelessness is currently a hot political topic in the region, with work in the borough being matched by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s commitment to rid all 10 unitary authorities in the region, including Wigan, of rough sleeping by 2020.
Vicky Bannister, assistant director for housing at Wigan Council (pictured), said: “Our work to prevent homelessness has previously been recognised as one of the best in the country, having achieved the Government’s Gold Standard for homelessness services in 2015.
“Over the last four years, we have seen an increase in the number of prevented homelessness cases and between 2016-17 specifically, almost 5,000 potential cases were prevented.”
“Everybody should be given the opportunity to live independently and we are committed to helping our residents have access to the right home at the right time.
“We welcome the introduction of the recent Homeless Reduction Act, as this gives every person who is homeless a personal plan to get them settled into accommodation.
“We are also part of a Greater Manchester wide initiative to get people who have been homeless for some time back into accommodation with appropriate support. “
“In addition we have recently recruited Homeless Champions who will be out across the borough on a regular basis once they have received relevant training to ensure sure people are linked into services.”
Wigan Council’s work has also been applauded by those working directly with homeless people, but organisations say it is now time for parliament to step up and provide more money.
But Leigh MP Jo Platt also wants to see much greater action at a national level and has also echoed calls for a clampdown on very cheap and strong alcohol which services say is wrecking and shortening the lives of those on the streets. Ms Platt added: “It is diabolical that in the sixth richest country in the world this is happening. Something has gone horribly wrong.”