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Burnham calls for housing bill to address shortage

Words: Laura Edgar
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham / Labour Party

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has called on the leaders of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties to introduce a housing bill to address the housing and homelessness crisis.

In a letter to Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable, Burnham said his first year as mayor, “working within the limitations of local powers”, has shown him that the housing crisis will “never be solved by more of the same”.

For Burnham, the solution is to give combined and local authorities new powers to intervene, “fix the broken housing market” and build more social rent homes. He wants there to be regulation of the private rented sector and local areas to have the freedom to invest in “much-needed” housing.

He also wants a new housing bill to be introduced, and for the negotiating of a Brexit deal to not distract from the “humanitarian crisis” on England’s streets.

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 National Health Service, what better way of marking it than by extending the right to healthcare to safe housing.”

Tackling homelessness has been a key priority for Burnham since he became mayor a year ago. He has introduced a number of projects to address the problem, including a Homelessness Fund that has raised £106,000, while 270 homes have been made available for the most vulnerable homeless people across Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester is also part of the government’s pilot Housing First scheme, launched today (9 May) by housing secretary James Brokenshire.

Image credit | Labour Party