Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

How Many More Must Die before the Cuts End?

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

How Many More Must Die before the Cuts End?

Article excerpt

IN the first edition of the M.E.N. on Sunday, we led with the impact nearly a decade of council cuts have had on our communities - the human beings behind the numbers, the way those cuts have sliced through the safety net, leaving volunteers and charities to fill the gap.

This week came a brand new set of statistics that could not make that point any more clearly.

Following campaigns by ourselves and other journalists across the country, on Monday the Office for National Statistics published its first ever data on homeless deaths in each council area.

They tell a story that will have come as no surprise to anyone observing our crisis closely: more deaths were recorded in Manchester in 2017 than anywhere else.

The publication of those figures is obviously to be welcomed. That homeless deaths were not counted previously speaks to an institutional indifference, one that was only shaken out of its stupor after we and others highlighted some of the individual tragedies on our doorstep, from the promising footballer who succumbed to alcohol abuse to the bright young man found dead in a bin.

Until then, the system did not consider it important enough to record those tragedies or track why they had happened.

Those charged with drawing up social policy and monitoring its effects had not been charting its most fatal outcomes.

Yet publishing this data is only half of the equation.

For while we now do have a partial picture of the scale of the crisis - with deaths rising year on year here since 2013, both among rough sleepers and people living in temporary accommodation - there is no evidence that, as yet, the government has learned any lessons.

Two of the major factors driving homelessness in the city are areas if even death make ministers tack, it is when that point will in which ministers are unwilling to bend: Universal Credit, including the five-week wait for payment, but also the way it pays a lump sum direct to vulnerable people who may not then use it to pay their rent, leading to arrears and evictions; and, you guessed it, council cuts. …

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