Below is my reply to Mr Delap, which I posted of today. The reply from Alex Delap, to the petition can be found here.
Dear Mr Delap,
Thank you for your timely and comprehensive reply to the petition delivered to you in support of the Homeless Rights of Justice Manchester campaign. The petition when handed in had 886 signatures on it, which was whittled down to 111 following Manchester City Councils petition guidelines of only accepting signatures with a Manchester post code. In my opinion, in this case, it would have been fairer to include signatures from Greater Manchester, as a number of the campaigners (and other homeless people in Manchester) are from outside Manchester. Maybe you will have to consider petitions (and homelessness) on a bigger scale when Devo-Manc arrives?
I am pleased to hear that Manchester City Council often makes offers of accommodation outside its statutory duties. And agree that this must be very difficult at times when considering the complex nature of the needs and problems you are presented with by homeless people. Alex you have provided me with reassurance that you are doing all you can to secure accommodation in the current homelessness services setup within Manchester City Council.
The unpleasant fact however is, what you are doing is not enough. And the only thing that can change that fact is more thought, energy and resources being applied to the problem of homelessness.
The government statistics show a steady increase, in the UK, of households accepted as statutorily homeless since 2009. Government figures show there were 12,540 households accepted, in England, as statutorily homeless in the first quarter of 2014, this had risen to 13,650 by the last quarter of 2014. The number of English households in temporary accommodation rose from 58,440 to 61,970 between 31st March 2014 and the 31st Dec. 2014. MCCs annual count of rough sleepers in Manchester on one night last November came to 43, in 2010 the number was 7; local charities estimate that the real number is double that of the annual official count.
This problem can only get worse with the coming £12 billion in cuts to services promised by the Tory government. They also have plans to prevent under 21 year olds receiving housing benefit and to sell of more social housing with no firm plans on how to replace the lost housing stock. Can you see the problem getting any better if we continue along the same course?
I fear, Alex, that you are approaching a perfect storm. The conditions being created by the government’s pursuit of austerity, pretty much every cut the government makes to public spending will have the effect of putting more people on the streets. And is there any more money being provided for Homelessness Services to deal with this increase? No, as their budgets are being slashed just like every other department; with a callous disregard for the growing number of people in need within the UK. Maybe you should consider changing jobs before the storm becomes a hurricane.
So the majority of the blame for this ‘storm’ lies with the Tory government, I agree. But I have heard nothing from the Labour Council or MPs in Manchester to raise this issue of increasing social deprivation caused by austerity measures that target the weakest in our society, rather than the strongest. I want the Labour party within Manchester TO MAKE SOME NOISE! I want you to bang drums and blow trumpets into the ears of David Cameron so that he removes his head from the clouds and actually notices what austerity is doing, not just to Manchester but the whole country.
I applaud the recent meeting MCC had with the homeless campaigners. The campaigners came away feeling it had been a positive meeting, and are hopeful progress can be made in the coming fortnightly meetings of the steering group on homelessness policy. However there needs to be money made available to implement any changes that are decided upon in the new homelessness strategy for Manchester.