Exclusive: An internal report sheds new light on Manchester’s floundering response to homelessness
Low morale and a 'sense of paralysis'
Dear Millers — today’s edition brings new details about the issues inside Manchester City Council's response to homelessness.
An internal report prepared for the council leaked to us recently confirms key aspects of our recent investigation. The hundreds of staff tasked with tackling homelessness in Manchester suffer from low morale, chaotic systems and a “sense of paralysis”, the consultants say. More on that below.
As always, this Thursday edition is written for paying Mill subscribers but regular Millers can read the top of the email. Join us as a member to get the full monty and all our members-only journalism.
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An Older People’s Equality Panel has been set up in Greater Manchester. It is supposed to give older residents more influence on local policymaking — Amanda Chadderton, the combined authority’s lead for Equalities, Inclusion and Cohesion, says: “The lives, experiences, and needs of older people are as diverse as any group in society, and we have to recognise that when designing the services and the policies.” The panel was announced just after we published a members-only piece about this very topic (pure coincidence, promise). In the comments of that piece, one of our members cited a shocking statistic, namely that among English local authorities, “Manchester has the highest proportion, 32% — of older people who died in poverty.” Those figures come from a University of Loughborough report published earlier this year; Oldham (21.8%), Rochdale (22.3%) and Salford (23.6%) were also included in the list.
Stockport's Labour party continues to eat itself. "Missing" signs mocking local councillor Louise Heywood have appeared on the streets of Edgeley, a few weeks after her fellow ward councillor Matt Wynne was prevented from standing in next year's all out elections by what he describes as a "cult" of left-wing activists. "She just doesn't participate in council business," one councillor told us. "She says nothing at committee meetings, she complained about the duration of full council meetings and said: 'how long do I have to be here?'" The implication is that some local councillors are more interested in Labour party business than the work of a councillor. Insiders have told The Mill the signs are "bang out of order. No one deserves that". Heywood hasn't yet responded to a request for comment. Read our recent members-only report on Labour’s dysfunction in Stockport (Cult survivors, guard dogs and stitch-ups. Infighting has taken over Stockport Labour), which has since been picked up by other local outlets.
A long-term investigation by BBC Panorama has revealed a "toxic culture" of abuse at the Edenfield centre, a psychiatric hospital in Prestwich. Wearing a hidden camera, a reporter saw patients being unnecessarily restrained, slapped, sworn at and mocked by staff. The police have opened a criminal investigation and a number of staff have been suspended, while Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust, which runs the site, said it was taking the allegations "very seriously". Watch the Panorama episode here.
Life expectancy has risen in Greater Manchester since devolution in 2016, when health and social care powers came under regional control, a report from the Lancet finds. Men saw a larger increase (0.34 years) than women (0.06 years). Between 2014-2016 and 2017-2019 — so not including the pandemic — life expectancy increased in all boroughs except for Rochdale, where it fell, and Oldham, where there was no change. But overall, life expectancy increased at a faster rate in Greater Manchester than in the rest of the country.
And finally, Schofield's Bar — a classy, spot-lit cocktail bar on Little Quay street near the opera house — has been named the 59th best bar in the world. Opened just last April, it's the first English bar outside of London to be named in the top 100 list since 2009. Their menu is here. Our resident bon vivant Jack Dulhanty recommends ordering the Manhattan.
Exclusive: An internal report sheds light on Manchester’s floundering response to homelessness
By Joshi Herrmann and Jack Dulhanty
How is Manchester City Council going to dig itself out of its massive homelessness problem? You might have been wondering after reading our recent investigation into the issue, which highlighted the skyrocketing numbers of households living in emergency “temporary accommodation” (or TA) and the ballooning associated costs. The story illustrated how far out of kilter Manchester’s TA numbers have become compared to other northern cities and also to neighbouring boroughs.
In recent weeks we’ve been speaking to council staff to find out how its leadership has responded to our reporting. We’ve also been sent a copy of a very recent report from a private consultancy called RedQuadrant, commissioned by the council to work out what it is doing wrong and to come up with some solutions.
The report, which hasn’t been reported in the media until now, is eye-opening. It’s a team of highly-paid outside consultants privately telling the council: you’re doing a lot wrong in one of your most vital areas.
It comes to some of the same conclusions we did about the failures within the council’s vast homelessness directorate, including low morale among staff, a “sense of paralysis” in key teams and an organisation that has too many complex processes that don't sync up. “We encountered a team that was struggling to move forward on a wide agenda,” the consultants say.
Unsurprisingly, it confirms our finding that a large part of Manchester’s homelessness crisis has to do with dysfunction and poor performance at the council. The report’s authors point to the fragmentation of services within the directorate, including “siloed working and poor sharing of information, in part a result of the numerous ICT systems and data collection methods”.
They praise the staff for being “passionate about their work” and coming up with “great ideas and initiatives”, but go on to say: “These [the initiatives] are not joined up, which means, at best, benefits are not maximised and at worst, services are operating against each other.”
The consultants spoke to more than 100 council staff during their investigation, including a senior manager in the homelessness service, who told them:
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