The Conservative Government this week announced that funding to provide shelter for rough sleepers will be scrapped at the end of the month. Manchester Labour are asking those who can to donate to BIG CHANGE, the homelessness charity that supports rough sleepers into secure and safe accommodation. It has so far helped over 1,500 people with deposits, job interviews, furniture and travel costs.
The Government launched their ‘Everyone In Policy’ at the start of the lockdown in March this year, ensuring those who needed emergency accommodation could receive it. Last month, concerns grew when MEN Social Affairs Editor and Northern advocate Jennifer Williams revealed concerns from local politicians in a MEN article to encourage the Government to reverse their decision. The Conservative Minister for local Government branded the article as ‘inaccurate’, but this week the Government has been confirmed that the initial concerns were correct.
The work done to get those in accommodation has been recognised across the country, with over 90% of rough sleepers accessing accommodation and 69 of those accessing substance abuse services. Labour Mayor Andy Burnham wrote to the Government last month to demand funding for those most vunlerable in Manchester.
Piccadilly Labour Councillor in the city centre of Manchester, Jon-Connor Lyons, said: “Over the last three months, we’ve seen huge successes with encouraging people into accommodation and accessing support services. If the Government continues their plan to cut this funding, it will disrupt the progress we’ve made here in Manchester and as a result, we will see vunlerable people return to the streets once again. It is completely unacceptable and I expected better from Boris Johnson.” Cllr Jon-Connor Lyons wrote a letter to Boris Johnson in December last year to invite him to Manchester to discuss the Conservatives plan to end rough sleeping by 2024. Cllr Lyons never received a response.
Luthfur Rahman, Labour lead Councillor for homelessness, said: “In the last few weeks many people who had been sleeping on the streets, including some who might not have been willing to engage with support services before, have made significant steps forwards in their lives. We are determined to do all we can to ensure nobody has to return to the street. But Manchester people can play their part too and I would encourage them to donate to The Big Change which provides funding to help people break out of the cycle of homelessness. There has been a big change – please help us sustain it.”
The Conservatives have two weeks to u-turn on their decision in order to ensure rough sleepers can continue to be accommodated until secure long-term homes are built.