Leading charities from across Greater Manchester have declared a “private rent emergency” in the region and have called for major changes to help protect thousands of local people facing homelessness.
The four charities, which are all dedicated to tackling poverty and ending homelessness in Greater Manchester, have launched a campaign to coincide with World Homeless Day.
Stepping Stone Projects, Mustard Tree, The Booth Centre, and Greater Manchester Shelter have joined forces to launch the Greater Manchester Private Rent Emergency campaign – and are calling on councils, politicians and a range of other stakeholders to publicly recognise the crisis in the private rental sector and back their plans for reform.
This campaign aims to address the escalating homelessness crisis in the region, which the group argue is exacerbated by a perfect storm of soaring rents, frozen benefit rates, increasing evictions and the cost-of-living crisis.
New analysis of official figures released by the group shows that the main reason for households facing homelessness in Greater Manchester is people losing their tenancies in private rented homes¹
Almost half (44%) of cases where households are at risk of homelessness in Greater Manchester are from people living in the private rented sector, compared to 25% living with family and 9% living in the social rented sector.
There are well in excess of 60,000 households in the private rented sector across Greater Manchester. Under current laws they have limited protection from being evicted from their homes at short notice, even if they have done nothing wrong.
While rough sleeping has fallen significantly from its historic high thanks in part to the efforts of Andy Burnham, homelessness levels overall remain stubbornly high, with a rising number of households relying on temporary accommodation.
Rents in some parts of Greater Manchester are rising by as much as 38% annually, yet the Local Housing Allowance, which sets the benefit rates people can access for private rents remains frozen at 2018/19 rent levels.
Dave Smith, Chief Executive of Stepping Stone Projects, which supports around 2,000 people at risk of homelessness in Greater Manchester said:
“We have seen a rapid growth in homelessness and surging demand for temporary accommodation from local people who have effectively been shut out of the private rented sector.
“Soaring rents and inadequate rights have led to this emergency, which must be recognised and tackled if we are serious about reducing homelessness in Greater Manchester.”
The charities are calling for crucial measures to improve the private rented sector and curb the growing tide of homelessness. The campaign’s core focus revolves around the “4 R’s”:
- Regulation: The swift introduction and implementation of the Renters’ Reform Bill, banning ‘no-fault’ evictions and enhancing tenant rights.
- Rent Control: Greater Manchester should have the power to control private rents in order to protect tenants from unaffordable increases.
- Rates of Local Housing Allowance (LHA): Increase LHA rates and reinstate indexation to ensure that the private rental sector can be accessed by households in receipt of benefits.
- Rights: End age discrimination in the LHA system and discrimination based on immigration status.
John Ryan, Greater Manchester Strategic Lead for Shelter, the UK’s leading housing justice charity said:
“We’ve seen positive steps to address rough sleeping and homelessness in Greater Manchester, but the problems that we see will continue to grow without reform of the private rented sector. Thousands of people are effectively locked out of the private rented sector by soaring rents and the social rented sector by lack of availability.”
Paul Newcombe, Chief Executive of the Booth Centre, a Manchester-based community facility which helps hundreds of people affected by homelessness said:
“We are increasingly seeing the failure of the private rented sector lead directly to homelessness, with people on the lowest incomes simply unable to find a suitable home. As well as soaring rents, there are some preventable issues with the system that create an impossible situation for some of the most vulnerable people in our city region.”
Jo Walby, Chief Executive of Mustard Tree, a leading local charity that combats poverty and prevents homelessness concluded:
“Only by recognising that we are facing a Private Rent Emergency can we start to make some of the local, regional and national changes needed to prevent even more people from experiencing homelessness.
“Our organisations are all dedicated to providing support to people in the greatest need, and we will continue in this mission. But it is also incumbent on us to advocate for a fairer, more effective system, where everyone has the right to secure housing.”
In the coming months, the organisations will be sharing further information and case studies to highlight the extent of the problem.
For further information, including case studies and interviews with the organisations involved, contact Ben Powell at Hough Bellis Communications on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07967 947 853.
¹ Research form the group showed most common reason for “loss of last settled home” for households at risk of homelessness in Greater Manchester was “end of private rented tenancy” in 37% of cases.
Data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-homelessness#statutory-homelessness-live-tables