The Liberal Democrats have said that it is no surprise that more homeless people died in Manchester than anywhere else in England and Wales, because the local authority "simply doesn't care" in what has been described as a "truly embarrassing day" for the city.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that, of the 597 homeless people who died on the streets of England and Wales in 2017, the highest number was recorded in Manchester.
In a damning statement, Manchester Lib Dem Leader John Leech slammed the Labour-run council for having a consistent history of turning its back on society's most vulnerable.
But this is not the first time Manchester has been in the spotlight for having a dreadful record on homelessness and rough sleeping.
For years, the council has been criticised for its drastic lack of social and affordable housing, including one development of 15,000 homes - not a single one of which was affordable despite demands from the council's opposition. In 2018, they were exposed again after allowing developers to ditch their affordable quota and the council leader, Richard Leese, voted against an affordable proportion of a new housing development.
Then, in an astonishing interview, Leese claimed there had been a lack of demand for social housing, saying, "until relatively recently we couldn’t fill it" and described Christmas as "peak begging season".
Last year, the council claimed soup kitchens organised by communities and outreach teams are a "bad idea", whilst also trying to sue the homeless, spending a staggering £10,000 on one-way tickets to get rid of rough sleepers and claiming the only way to tackle "offenders" is to fine them.
Earlier this year Manchester Council approved spending a grand total of £1.2m on updating the city centre's fountains - enough to house every single person sleeping rough in the city for an entire year, along with a hot meal, warm shower and access to a support worker.
Two weeks ago, an updated 'Public Space Protection Order', which went out to public consultation, was quickly and widely slammed as a 'Homeless Tax' to clean up the streets as it was revealed the new powers would allow rough sleepers taking shelter in tents or doorways to be fined up to £1,000.
Manchester Lib Dem Spokesperson Greg Stanton said:
"This conversation is all too often about numbers and statistics but these are real people; real people dying on our streets because neither Labour nor the Tories will show any leadership on tackling this crisis.
"In Manchester, we are experiencing the worst homeless and rough sleeping epidemic in living memory and it is only perpetuated by mind-numbingly shortsighted policies like the Homeless Tax and spending enough money to house every single person sleeping rough in our city for an entire year on vanity projects instead."
Last week, Manchester Lib Dem leader John Leech wrote a scathing open letter to Richard Leese accusing him of laying the foundations for a 'comprehensive cleansing of the city centre' after the council proposed fining rough sleepers up to £1,000.
The former MP ripped the proposals apart describing it as a "deeply worrying, critical and consistent failure of a council that simply doesn’t care."
Manchester Lib Dem Leader John Leech added:
"It is absolutely no surprise that Manchester has the worst homeless death count because it is being let down on an unprecedented scale by the two big parties - we should be upset, angry and ready to fight for change, but we should not be surprised.
"Both Labour and the Tories have a consistent history of turning their backs on society's most vulnerable; whilst the Tories keep cutting until the end of time, Labour keeps wasting what little money we do have on shunting homeless people out of the city on one-way tickets, taking them to court and fountains!
"In Manchester, only the Liberal Democrats pledged to end wasteful spending and invest more money than ever before into preventing homelessness.
"This is a truly embarrassing day for our city."