Wigan Council receives £728k to keep homeless off streets
The government has pledged an extra £4.3 million to helping Greater Manchester authorities support rough sleepers – including almost three quarters of a million pounds for Wigan.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick says the Rough Sleeping Initiative, now in its third year, led to the first nationwide fall in rough sleeping in a decade in 2018.
But government figures from that year show that the number of people living on Manchester’s streets rose by a third last year – the highest outside London.
The city council will get £724,212 through the scheme, which is aimed at providing rough sleepers a place to stay, access to mental health or addiction services, and advice on securing permanent accommodation.
Almost a third of Greater Manchester’s allocation – £1.3 million – will go to Salford council, with Wigan council and the combined authority receiving £728,086 and £715,900 respectively.
Wigan will use their money to increase the number of available private-rented accommodation from 2020/21.
Coun Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for housing and welfare, said the funding was ‘testament to the hard work’ of the homelessness team and its partners, such as The Brick and Real Change Wigan.
The deputy leader of Manchester city council, Coun Sue Murphy has welcomed the funding boost from a government ‘waking up to the reality’ that councils need urgent investment ‘after a decade of ‘underfunding’.
“This is not ‘new’ money, but a continuation of funding for services that are being run by the council,” said Coun Murphy.
“It will, however, allow us to expand the support we offer to people who are homeless and sleep rough, such as additional social care for people who need more than just a roof over their heads.
“The Council will always welcome extra funding following a decade of austerity, but we have to stress that if the government is serious about ending the homelessness crisis we need more from them.
“We need policy which understands the root causes of homelessness, and we need long-term sustainable funding, rather than smaller one-off payments to support the ever increasing cost of supporting people who are homeless.”
This is how the remainder of the £4.3 million will be split in the city-region: Bolton – £124,997; Bury – £40,000; Oldham – £37,000; Rochdale – £32,029; Stockport – £40,000; Tameside – £471,500; Trafford – £40,000
A Bed Every Night, the regional scheme to get rough sleepers of the streets started by regional mayor Andy Burnham, is also likely to benefit from the funding.
Counts conducted by the combined authority report that the number of people sleeping rough in the city-region has fallen from 241 in November 2018 to 151 last year.
In total local authorities across the UK received £112m through the Rough Sleeping Initiative this year – a 30pc increase on last year’s share.
The money will pay for up to 6,000 new bed spaces and 2,500 more support staff across the country, according to the government.