Housing should be on par with health and education

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has called on the government to make housing a human right like health or education and help beat homelessness.

The former Labour leadership candidate has been a vocal voice for tackling homelessness since becoming the Mayor of Greater Manchester, pledging to end rough sleeping in the region by 2020 and help more than 500 people through a Housing First scheme over the next three years.

In the last 12 months, £106,000 has been raised for the Mayor’s Homelessness Fund, with more than 1,000 emergency beds provided during the recent cold weather period. Burnham has also seen over 500 homeless people accessing healthcare through a new GP registration scheme and 270 homes made available for the most vulnerable homeless people across Greater Manchester.

However, now analysing the problem on a national level, Burnham has written to Prime Minister Theresa May, as well as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable, claiming that the housing crisis will never be solved if the government continues to operate with limitations on local authority’s powers to improve housing in their constituencies. He is therefore urging party leaders to introduce a new Housing Bill and ensure it cannot be crowded out by the time pressures of Brexit.

Burnham said: “It is time that Parliament woke up to the scale of the crisis unfolding on our streets. Rising levels of rough-sleeping are the most visible sign of our broken housing market. But, behind every person on the street, hundreds more are just one step away in poor rented accommodation.

“Here in Greater Manchester, there is no shortage of passion and determination to do something to help. But that urgently needs to be matched by people in Parliament and government showing the same. We cannot allow the intricacies of Brexit to divert us from the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our own streets. Any night spent on the streets causes immense damage to people’s physical and mental health. Housing is a health issue and in this, the 70th anniversary year of the NHS, what better way of marking than by extending the right to healthcare to safe housing.”