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Greater Manchester to pilot scheme to address homelessness in ex-prisoners

The £3 million scheme is tailored to provide temporary accommodation to people leaving custody who would otherwise be homeless

Over the next 12 months, around 500 people set to leave custody in Greater Manchester will be supported into good quality temporary accommodation, as part of an almost £3 million Government scheme launching in the city-region.

The Greater Manchester Community Accommodation Service will deliver an anticipated 162 units of accommodation across the 10 boroughs, suitable for a stay of up to 12 weeks.

It’s hoped the scheme will assist prison-leavers with their transition back into the community and reduce the risk of homelessness.

The scheme is launching in an initial five of the twelve probation regions of England and Wales, with Greater Manchester one of those involved.

It’s tailored to provide temporary accommodation to people leaving custody who would otherwise be homeless and have nowhere safe to stay upon release.

Photo: GMCA

In Greater Manchester, it will be among the existing interconnected schemes aimed at reducing homelessness, ending the need for rough sleeping and reducing re-offending as part of devolved and regional ways of working.

The Greater Manchester Community Accommodation Service builds on the widely praised Housing First programme and A Bed Every Night, which provides emergency accommodation for anyone sleeping rough who wants and needs it.

“The drive to tackle homelessness across Greater Manchester will be aided greatly by this Community Accommodation Service, which should significantly improve the transition of prison-leavers back into our communities.

“We know that accommodation is a critical factor in reducing re-offending, with people 50% more likely to re-offend if they have nowhere safe to stay,” said Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Fire.

“In Greater Manchester we are determined to reduce homelessness and to minimise the risks of homelessness and criminal reoffending.

“With the implementation of the Community Accommodation Service, I am confident in this city-region we will achieve just that reduction.”

The accommodation will be fully self-contained or en-suite.

The maximum length of stay within the scheme will be 12 weeks, with the aim of securing safe and appropriate accommodation by this time.

This could be with friends or family, in further temporary or supported accommodation if required, or in a settled tenancy.

“For too long we have heard stories of individuals living on the streets because, once they left custody, they had nowhere else to go,” said Paul Dennett, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Lead on Housing and Homelessness.

“This is why it’s an important scheme, aligning MoJ, HMPPS, GMCA and our local authorities and other agencies to all work together to prevent homelessness once people leave prison.

“Innovative schemes already in place in Greater Manchester, such as A Bed Every Night, have been designed to address street homelessness.

“But now this Community Accommodation Service means there ought not to be a risk of homelessness for a prison-leaver.

“In 2021 no-one should have to sleep outdoors, and in Greater Manchester we are working hard not just to end the need for rough sleeping, but to prevent all forms of homelessness through our new Greater Manchester Homelessness Prevention Strategy.”

Photo: GMCA

Chris Edwards, Regional Probation Director for Greater Manchester, says that housing is one of the key requirements offenders need to start a new life free from crime.

“Stable accommodation also provides a firm foundation for people to access other support, such as in addressing drug misuse issues and furthering employment opportunities,” he said.

“We have worked hard to ensure this scheme builds on, and is integrated with, the excellent work involving a range of agencies already taking place across Greater Manchester to reduce homelessness.”

In Greater Manchester, this new scheme is backed by £2,962,440 of Ministry of Justice funding and will be implemented in the city-region due to the powers devolved to GMCA through an enhanced arrangement with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, which allows for a bespoke regional approach.

In addition to this, the Probation Service will work with the local authorities to access the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government Private Rented scheme funding that is being launched at the same time in the five regions – the Accommodation for Ex-Offenders scheme.

This funding will enable prison leavers to move-on from their temporary accommodation provision into settled accommodation.

The Community Accommodation Service is expected to support around 500 people leaving custody over the next 12 months.

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