Manchester City Council has vowed to help all those under threat of eviction this winter as bills soar higher than ever. The full council meeting on Wednesday highlighted the fact that so many people have fallen victim to the cost of living crisis and rent rises, as an £8m package of support was unveiled to tackle this.
Council leader Bev Craig put forward the motion in the Town Hall extension chamber to support 100,000 households in Manchester this winter who are believed to be affected. Citing gas price increases of 114 per cent and electricity bills being up by 85 per cent since April 2022, the council leader said they will make up for the ‘lack of action’ being taken by the central government.
A Cost of Living Advice Line has also been set up for residents in Manchester, who will be able contact the council to get advice on how to access support this winter via phone or online during the week between 9am and 4pm.
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A motion in regard to the housing crisis was also highlighted by Coun Angela Moran. She shared a heartbreaking story of 26-year-old Amy, who is now couch surfing after being evicted from her home of four years.
Despite being in employment she couldn’t pay the increased rent and is now sharing a room with two of her teenage cousins. This is something Coun Moran believes 'shouldn’t be happening in one of the richest countries in the world'.
Her motion, which was carried in the chamber, sought the council to petition the central government to ban winter evictions, make social housing more affordable, put a cap on rent rises from private landlords and reintroduce the right to buy scheme. She also wanted to prioritise the passing of the Renters’ Reform Bill that seeks to improve standards and regulations across the private rented sector to better protect tenants.
The council agreed it will continue to lobby central government on the urgent need to provide a Covid-like package of support to residents and businesses. Calls were also made urging the government to increase the National Minimum Wage to match the Real Living Wage, and to increase Universal Credit and other benefits in line with inflation.
Coun Bev Craig said: “As we head into the winter months many residents in Manchester are staring down the barrel of true hardship. We are proud of the work the council has already done in recent years to alleviate poverty and create an economy in Manchester which works for everyone, but it is clear that in these dire times greater action is needed.
“The steps taken by the government have not gone nearly far enough and much more has to be done if we are to prevent our residents from slipping below the poverty line. A lot has been said about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis but we believe that in the absence of leadership from the centre, we need to take action with the powers we have at our disposal.
“By declaring a Cost of Living emergency the council is laying out just how seriously we are taking this situation. We are not prepared to stand idle as more and more of our residents are exposed to hardship.”
To help support residents further, Manchester has a plan to become a Living Wage City in the next three years. As part of the Living Wage Foundation’s Making Living Wage Places scheme, local businesses and employers will be encouraged to pay employees the real Living Wage and become accredited as Living Wage Employers.
Katherine Chapman, director of the Living Wage Foundation said: "The Living Wage Foundation's Making Living Wage Places scheme recognises groups of major local employers such as universities, sports clubs and local authorities that not only pay the living wage to their employers and contractors, but also use their influence to spread Living Wage accreditation through their local area.
“This increases Living Wage jobs, providing more workers with a fair day's pay for a hard day's work.”
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