Updated: Monday, 3rd August 2020 @ 11:52pm

Coronavirus: Mayor Burnham outlines Manchester's 'humanitarian' £5m response to help the homeless

Coronavirus: Mayor Burnham outlines Manchester's 'humanitarian' £5m response to help the homeless

| By Billy Brooks

Mayor Andy Burnham and Deputy Mayor Bev Hughes spoke to the press today following a meeting of the Greater Manchester Covid-19 Emergency Committee, to keep the people of Greater Manchester up to date with city policy regarding the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

They broadcast their briefing remotely in accordance with national policy banning congregations of more than two people.

The GMCA’s policy remains broadly in step with the government’s guidelines, which became far more stringent earlier this week, further restricting unnecessary travel, and closing a host of non-essential shops and places of worship.

Burnham unveiled a range of specific policies, including a £5m package to house up to 1,000 homeless people in hotels, allowing them to self-isolate. This policy is designed to protect those in shared temporary accommodation hostels and almost 300 rough sleepers, who are most at risk of catching and spreading the virus.

This policy includes welfare support sourced from the Greater Manchester Homeless Action Network, which Burnham hopes will help the homeless population to remain in stable housing even after the Covid-19 crisis has been resolved.

Over 600 people across the ten boroughs have already been housed. This £5m was initially allocated for another purpose, but after similar steps were taken elsewhere in the country, this is a welcome policy for the Manchester area. 

He thanked hotels that had volunteered to take part in the scheme and protect Manchester’s large homeless population, but censured Britannia Hotels, which yesterday evicted homeless people from their rooms despite initially agreeing to house them.

This will help Andy Burnham achieve his long-term goal of solving the Manchester homeless crisis by the end of this year, with some figures suggesting that the rough-sleeping population has been halved in the last two years.

He said: “This is our humanitarian response at a time of a national public health crisis.”

'YOU NEED TO CLOSE NOW'

The Mayor also issued a plea for personal protective equipment (PPE) to be delivered more quickly and in greater quantities for distribution among public sector workers, especially those working in healthcare.

A call was also issued to the government to provide more clarity for the self-employed, many of whom remain unsure about their own financial future, and whether or not they will receive aid.

The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) have been reporting higher instances of both domestic abuse and violent hate crimes, apparently due to the new lockdown policy from Westminster.

It was also revealed that 64 businesses in the Greater Manchester area, deemed non-essential by the government, have remained open despite policy dictating that they must shut down for the foreseeable future.

Although Mayor Burnham does not have the power to force these businesses to close, he was very firm in his messaging to those businesses that had remained open.

He said: “If your business is still open and you’re not involved in essential work, you need to close it now.”

Despite an escalation in crime figures in Greater Manchester, emergency services are not struggling to answer 999 calls, although callers to 111 may encounter delays, due to staff illnesses.

Since the lockdown policies came into place, GMP have also had to disperse 24 large groups, congregating publicly, and ignoring crucial NHS guidelines on social distancing.

It remains of vital importance that citizens pay attention to official advice, and only leave their homes to shop for food and medicine, to exercise once a day, or if they cannot work from home.

As promised, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue have been making “safe and well” checks to identify residents most in need of aid from council services.

To aid in the national push to get people to distance socially from one another, Manchester’s waste contractor, SUEZ, has closed all 20 of its Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

Resources remain available online for those seeking official guidelines for businesses, people hoping to volunteer and do their part to help locally, and the latest official medical advice.

For further information visit:

Businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus

Volunteergm.org

111.nhs.uk