House all homeless people now, government urged

Andy Burnham has called on the government to release funding to house all homeless people now, as the Coronavirus crisis continues to unfold.

Speaking on 5Live Politics, the Mayor of Greater Manchester also called for more stringent social distancing measures and for the government to issue clearer advice so people understand how they can slow the spread of COVID-19.

He said: “The government needs to fund all councils so that they can house all people who are homeless now. This needs to happen immediately No person should be forced to sleep on the streets of Britain at any time but certainly not now. This must be an extremely worrying time for anyone who is homeless. They are not able to access or follow the Government’s advice in the same way as others and need to be helped to do so.

“In Greater Manchester, the number of people sleeping rough is reducing but, at the last count, there are still over a hundred people out there. Across the country, thousands of people are still sleeping rough. They need to be supported as a matter of urgency both for their own good and to limit the spread of the virus. The government needs to say today, at the daily briefing, that they are requiring local authorities to house all people sleeping rough and that this will be fully funded.”

Since taking office, Burnham, a former labour leader contender, has been a strong advocate for tackling rough sleeping. In the Greater Manchester City-region, rough sleeping has dropped by 37 per cent in a year and nearly 50 per cent in two years. Much of this has been attributed to the Mayor’s A Bed Every Night scheme.