Agenda item


Report from Councillor Cummins, Cabinet Member for Housing Services


Councillor Cummins provided an overview of the report. The Council has a statutory duty to support people that are homeless in the Borough and the Council must have an updated and robust Homelessness Strategy to clearly demonstrate how we will meet the required statutory duties and obligations for homelessness in the Borough. Over the past decade Bury has seen a gradual increase in homeless cases within the Borough with greater increases over the past 5 years. In 2020 a new Housing Strategy was agreed for the Borough of Bury which included a commitment to end rough sleeping by 2024.


The new Homelessness Strategy has been co-produced with the Bury Homelessness Partnership to deliver this, by applying the Borough-Wide ‘Lets Do it’ ethos of prevention, early intervention and the targeting of public service resources.


A member asked what efforts Bury Council has put into consulting private landlords and what plans for future consultations do they have. In response Councillor Cummins advised that initiatives to work better with private landlords will be considered and the team has recently added to the Private Sector team to develop better relationships with landlords. In addition, Phil Cole, Head of Homelessness & Housing Options advised we have over 1000 voids in the private rented sector, and we need to access these properties for the benefit of those who do not have a permanent home. Phil Cole also advised that information had today been published stating that the rental market across Bury is the most expensive in Greater Manchester which does highlight an issue around affordability.


Phil Cole, Head of Homelessness & Housing Options, referenced a recent report from Greater Manchester Combined Authority which showed the difference between Local housing allowance (LHA) rents and Market rents (PRS) for a one-bedroom flat is 46% in cost. Bury’s challenge is greater than other authorities as Bury’s map is smaller than many other districts.


A member questioned what Bury Council is doing to bring the 1000 empty properties in the Borough back into use.  In reply, Phil Cole, Head of Homelessness & Housing Options advised we have an empty housing officer and £1million to bring those back into use and currently around 35 have been brought back into use. Phil Cole further advised that the funding is set into two parts, the deal up funding which is working with landlords and also support for landlords such as repairs service and free management service offers, both of which are being considered.  


Councillor Cummins as Cabinet Member gave assurances to the committee that she is confident we can eradicate rough sleeping in the borough by 2025.


Questions took place regarding temporary accommodation. In response members were advised that we use over one hundred supported properties with wrap around support to improve lives and sustain their tenancy in the future. Part of Bury’s offer is that all Greater Manchester Boroughs try to work together. We are the only Greater Manchester Authority that does not use bed and breakfast and this has helped Bury secure funding as we are seen as performing well. As of today, there are no known rough sleepers and we have met our target however, this can change quickly.


Discussions also took place regarding the impact of an increase in Asylum Seekers and providing appropriate accommodation.


In addition, targeted work is taking place on helping families to manage debt.


In conclusion Councillor Cummins advised she is confident the service will continue with their good work though communication, resolving issues promptly and having a good relationship with the homeless partnership board and will report back to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in a years’ time.


It was agreed:


1.    An update on the progress of the Homelessness Strategy to be brought back to committee in one year’s time

Supporting documents: