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Friday, 13 October 2017

Andy Burnham welcomes £3.8m to tackle homelessness after Theresa May meeting

Written by Pat Hurst

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has welcomed a £3.8m boost to tackle homelessness after a meeting with the Prime Minister.

The two had an hour-long discussion as Theresa May visited Manchester, announcing extra funding to combat rough sleeping and homelessness, blighting the region and Manchester in particular.

Mr Burnham also tackled the Tory leader on the controversial roll-out of Universal Credit and her commitment to the "Northern Powerhouse" during the meeting.

The Prime Minister said: "We have been listening to the voice of local people and this is something that has been said to us, the mayor said this was a key issue for Manchester.

"Of course we are putting money across the country into homelessness and trying to ensure that we prevent people from becoming homeless and that's what this £3.8m for Greater Manchester is about.

"It's about helping to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

"I think that's important. We see the need, that's why the Government's putting the money in."

Mr Burnham has targeted an end to rough sleeping as one of his main goals as mayor, by a new approach combining the public, private and voluntary sectors working together.

He welcomed the extra cash, adding: "It is good news in and of itself. It will help turn more lives around and that can only be a good thing. It is welcome."

But he said he warned the Prime Minister about the continuing roll-out of Universal Credit, which he said may undo attempts to tackle rough sleeping.

He said in one borough of Greater Manchester used as a pilot area for Universal Credit, 80% of those on the new benefit, which rolls together various separate benefits into one, ended up in rent arrears.

Mr Burnham added that he "hoped" the Prime Minister was committed to the Northern Powerhouse agenda of lifting prosperity in the North.

He added: "We had a constructive meeting today. We had a good discussion on the transport investment that the North desperately needs, and I made that very clear to her that people are fed up with the second class rail services that we've got."

He gave a guarded welcome to "encouraging signs" of the Government's commitment to the North, with the money today, a proposed new housing deal out of Mrs May's commitment to build more council houses announced last week, and recent announcements on some new funding for transport.

He added: "There is a growing awareness it would seem in government that there needs to be follow through on commitments given to the North.

"I think we have seen good steps forward here, but yes, I think people should retain an open mind on whether or not we are getting everything that we were promised."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.