PETITION – PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE – THANK YOU! Help the homeless and the ever increasing number living in fear of homelessness.
We the people of Manchester ask our representatives, Manchester City Council (MCC), to take the following measures with the aim of alleviating the housing crisis in Manchester and the Greater Manchester region:
1. Reverse the 2015 funding cuts, totalling £2,013,188, to Housing Related Support and the Homelessness Prevention Grant in Manchester.
2. Allocate Fifty percent of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) £300 million housing fund, and its investment returns for the building of social rented housing, either by the council or housing associations. If this is beyond the power of MCC, then as a member of the GMCA they must lobby central government to devolve said power to the GMCA.
3. Implement rent controls to prevent exorbitant rent rises in the private rented sector. If this is beyond the power of MCC, then as a member of the GMCA they must lobby central government to devolve said power to the GMCA.
Why is this important?
Housing Related Support (HRS) is used to prevent a crisis such as homelessness occurring. It provides advice to people on how to manage money and pay bills, and how to adhere to tenancy agreements. HRS covers permanent accommodation based services and floating support services that are utilised when needed. During a MCC executive council meeting on the 13th of February 2015 it was agreed to reduce Housing Related Support by £1,814,000 from an initial amount of £5,722,000.
During the same meeting it was decided the Homelessness Prevention Grant would be reduced by £199,188, from an initial amount of £729,188. This vital fund prevents people from becoming homeless by providing services such as debt advice, landlord mediation and help with finding a home.
The latest count of rough sleepers in Manchester City centre in 2015 was 70, which is a 63% rise on the 47 counted in 2014. The actual figures are likely to be much worse than this as the way the count is carried out (on one night of the year with in specific city centre locations) is generally regarded to under count the problem. The size of the discrepancy is indicated in a statement by Jenny Osborne Senior Strategy Manager of Public Health Manchester. “Last year the headcount for rough sleepers was 47; we know that from the severe weather protocol we operated last year that 234 separate individuals accessed that provision during the cold weather period.”
Across England homelessness is increasing due to the incompetent housing policies and austerity agenda of the current Tory government. In 2014/15 there were 102,200 decisions taken by local authorities declaring households as being Statutory Homeless, a 10% increase from 2010/11. In the second quarter of 2015 the number of households in temporary accommodation was 66,980, a 33% increase on the second quarter of 2010. When levels of homelessness are increasing it is unacceptable to cut services aimed at preventing homelessness.
2. Social rented housing
The devolution deal has given the Greater Manchester Combined Authority control of a £300 million housing fund to promote house building. A large proportion of the housing fund has already been loaned to private property developers to build private housing with no provision for social rented housing. There is a severe shortage of social rented housing (council or housing association properties) in England. The total number of social rented properties built in England stands at 9,590 in 2014/15, which is a 75% drop from the figure of 38,950 built in 2010/11. The loss of social rented housing has resulted in huge waiting lists where people have little hope of receiving an offer of accommodation in a reasonable time. At least 50% of the housing fund should be allocated to housing associations or local authorities to allow building of much needed social rented housing.
3. Private rented housing
Tenants in the UK not only pay the highest average monthly rents in Europe (902 Euro/month), we also pay the largest percentage of our income (39.1%) to pay the rent. Between 2008-09 and 2012-13 average weekly rents in the private rented sector increased by 7% from £153 to £163, according to the English Housing Survey. The MEN reported in October 2015 that the average rental price of private properties in Greater Manchester has increased by 22.4% over 12 months. The increase in rents is compounded by a drop in real wages of almost 10% for the typical UK worker since 2008.
Manchester City Council must take action to alleviate the suffering caused by the housing crisis in Manchester and the wider Greater Manchester Region. This petition offers MCC the opportunity to tackle the housing crisis in the three major areas of homelessness, social rented housing provision and control of private rents; we sincerely hope that upon receiving this petition MCC will seriously consider implementing all proposals suggested.
Conrad Bower (38 Degrees Manchester & Unite the Union Grt. Man. Community Branch)
John Clegg (Branch Secretary, Unite the Union Grt. Man. Community Branch)
‘Manchester City Council: Act to Alleviate the Housing Crisis’ petition sponsored by:
Unite the Union Greater Manchester Community Branch
38 Degrees Manchester
Manchester & Salford Housing Action – next event Friends Meeting House 25/01/15