Greater Manchester mayor may 'miss rough sleepers' target'

Image source, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Image caption,
Andy Burnham said homelessness needs to be a bigger issue

A pledge to ending rough sleeping in Greater Manchester by next year may not be met, the area's mayor has admitted.

But Andy Burnham has maintained his call for the "A Bed Every Night" (ABEN) scheme to end rough sleeping, to be rolled out nationally.

Mr Burnham admitted his flagship policy was "not perfect".

However, more than 2,600 rough sleepers were helped since ABEN was launched last year, with 950 finding long term accommodation, he said.

Political leaders have been urged to prioritise the homelessness "crisis" during the upcoming election, after 726 people died in England and Wales last year.

Mr Burnham told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "We can't control the number of people coming onto the streets, that's down to government policy, all we can do is help as many people as we can."

He explained that the authority cannot "deal with the homelessness crisis on our own, we need more people to do what we're doing".

Mr Burnham said he expected to be judged next May in the mayoral elections, adding he "couldn't have done more".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
More than 2,600 rough sleepers were helped off the streets in Greater Manchester since last year,

"People need to hold me to account, and I won't be hiding away, but if people could tell me what me or my team could have done more, I'd be happy to listen," he said.

Mr Burnham is writing to the leaders of the major parties before the general election calling for the end of several national policies linked to causing homelessness.

These include:

  • The freeze on Local Housing Allowance
  • The law allowing landlords to evict tenants after eight weeks without a reason.

"If we had government pulling in the same direction as us, I think we could solve the problem," said Mr Burnham.

"When you've got people dying on our streets, it needs to be a bigger issue in a general election campaign."

Rough sleeping remains an acute problem in Manchester, where numbers went up by a third last year - the highest outside London.

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.