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New £3.8m to tackle GM homelessness ‘insignificant’ within whole system

A £3.8m fund has been handed to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) by prime minster Theresa May to go towards tackling the growing homelessness problem in the area.

In a flash visit to Manchester only a week after the Conservative Party conference took place there, the PM held a meeting with metro mayor Andy Burnham to discuss a number of issues including homelessness, housing, skills and transport.

Speaking exclusively to PSE after his meeting, Burnham said that the money was a big contribution towards his goal of ending homelessness in the region by 2020, but in and of itself would not be enough to hit this target.

“We’re pleased to welcome the PM to GMCA today,” he told us. “The fact that she came here sends a good message about her commitment to the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

“The meeting lasted the best part of an hour and we covered a range of issues including transport, housing and homelessness into skills, policing, health and social care – so we did cover a very broad spectrum and it was positive.”

Burnham also explained that during the meeting he used the opportunity to voice concerns about Universal Credit (UC) directly to the PM.

“I did use the meeting to raise my concerns about UC and that if the roll-out proceeds as planned, it could put many more people on our streets,” he continued.

“It was not all sweetness and light – we did use the opportunity to raise concern – but overall it was a meeting conducted in a very positive manner."

Recently, Burnham has called for the roll-out of the controversial UC policy to be halted, as he argued that it is one of the key factors contributing to people not keeping up with rent arrears and ending up on the streets in Greater Manchester.

“The immediate priority is putting in place respite provision like shelters for people so we can give them an alternative to the street; somewhere that’s safe, warm and dry,” the mayor explained.

Paul Dennett, mayor of Salford and GMCA portfolio holder for housing planning and homelessness, also agreed that the money was a step forward, but said that there was a long way to go to stamp out homelessness in the region.

“It’s a contribution, no doubt about it,” Dennett told PSE. “But thinking about my own local authority in Salford, since 2010 we have lost £186m in direct reductions to revenue support grants and increased cost pressures.

“This next financial year we are having to take another further £11.7m out of our budgets, but when you consider this in the round, the £3.8m which the PM has announced isn’t a significant amount of money within the GM system to tackle homelessness and its causes, which as we all know is a complex issue.”

Top Image: Yui Mok PA Wire

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