McDonnell’s distorted and dangerous version of Right to Buy9:01 AM, 5th September 2019
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A £600,000 pot of funding launched in Greater Manchester aims to find real-life solutions to the housing problems facing thousands of vulnerable private renters in the city.
Funded by the Nationwide Foundation and hosted by housing charity Shelter, the £1.2 million Fair Housing Futures project seeks to address the challenges of accessing and living in Greater Manchester’s private rented sector, that are faced by tenants with limited financial and social support.
The scheme is now calling for local organisations such as tenants’ groups, housing associations, and organisations covering planning, development and even health and well-being, to apply to have their ideas backed with cash from a £600,000 grant fund.
Shelter’s Roli Barker,project manager for Fair Housing Futures, said:“We know from our Shelter front line services that the lack of social housing in Manchester is pushing more people into unstable private rentals.
“This funding from the Nationwide Foundation is an incredible opportunity for us as a city to help ourselves, to create a network of funded local projects that get right to the heart of the issues facing our vulnerable private renters. We want to leave a legacy of practical solutions, that make access to housing not only easier, but fairer.”
The project has already mapped out how sky-high rents and poor conditions across Greater Manchester leave many vulnerable renters struggling to survive in what Shelter describes as a broken private rented system.
This research will help the project’s partnership board to distribute £600,000 of grant funding to organisations in Greater Manchester over the next three years, as they work to test and develop successful applications.
Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor and Greater Manchester’s lead for housing, homelessness and infrastructure, and who sits on the Fair Housing Futures board, said: “With social and council housing becoming increasingly oversubscribed, more people are often being forced into the private rented sector. Whilst for most this is a good alternative, a small minority of unscrupulous landlords are exploiting vulnerable tenants and dragging down whole communities through mismanagement and negligence.
“In Greater Manchester we’re working to fix this, to ensure everyone has a decent, secure and safe home. Through our work on the private rented sector we’ll be supporting tenants, recognising good landlords and using all the powers and legislation at our disposal to make sure that unscrupulous landlords are forced out of our communities for good.
“Shelter’s Fair Housing Futures programme and grant funding will help us make sure the private rented sector in Greater Manchester works for all our communities and neighbourhoods – landlords and tenants together.”
Leigh Pearce, Chief Executive of the Nationwide Foundation, said: “The private rented sector has changed massively in recent years and needs to undergo significant redesign. It’s only right that we should make rented homes places where tenants are treated with respect and can truly feel happy and settled.
“This work will help tenants who are struggling with affordability and trapped in poor quality rented homes. The fund will test solutions to challenges faced by vulnerable, disadvantaged and low-income tenants in the private rented sector in Greater Manchester. Because the fund is not constrained by statutory obligations, it can be used creatively, and we look forward to seeing some innovative and smart ideas come through.
“We’ve chosen this mayoral authority to work in as we see enormous appetite for modernisation of housing policy and practice in Greater Manchester. However, the fears and struggles facing tenants in Greater Manchester are sadly not unique, and we hope that the successes here will eventually trail-blaze vital improvements to the private rented sector right across the UK.”
Organisations applying for funding must either be based in Greater Manchester or have a partner applicant who is based in Greater Manchester.
Selina used to run a successful Manchester sandwich business, but when it folded due to late payments by the companies she supplied, she was soon tipped into sofa-surfing and homelessness. After applying as homeless to the council, she was placed in “temporary” accommodation – where she’s now been for 24 months.
“When I first declared myself homeless the council put me in a hotel for a week, then I went to women’s council hostel for a month, then I went into their sister hostel for 3 months, and then I came here to another temporary flat. I’m in rent arrears from my previous place, because I got behind on my rent. But that means I can’t yet get on Manchester Move, to apply for social housing, and I’m trapped.
“Knowing what I know about private renting, I probably wouldn’t choose it. It’s unreliable, and for some landlords, it’s just like a meat market isn’t it?
“One big problem here is having storage heaters, because they’re so expensive. For someone with not a lot of money, you have two options, you either sit in the cold, or you spend a fortune on heating. My heating would cost more than £120 per month.
“I think what’s happened is the homelessness issue just went ‘boom’ and spiralled out of control and became unmanageable. So many people are just getting shoved into places without them being inspected, because there’s no housing. We just need more housing, and I feel our problems as private renters are just being painted over.”
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