Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Homeless Bill moves forward

October 05 2016
Homelessness charities want the public to lobby their MPs to avoid the Bill being shelved


Homelessness charities are calling on the public to write to their MPs in support of laws which would protect more people from sleeping rough.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill is being considered by Parliament, but is at risk of failing at its next hearing on 28 October unless at least 100 MPs attend to help turn it into law.

Charities including Crisis, Shelter and St Mungo’s are campaigning in favour of the Bill, which would give councils a duty to act more swiftly and for a greater number of people facing homelessness than current laws.

They are also calling on everyone to join them on 19 October 2016 for a mass lobby of Parliament in supportof the Bill.

Under the new law, councils would have to accept people as ‘threatened with homelessness’ if they are at risk of losing their homes within 56 days, rather than the current 28, and would have to show that they had taken steps to keep them housed, such as mediating with landlords or offering alternative accommodation.

If these steps failed to prevent a person from losing their home, councils would have to help them find alternative accommodation regardless of whether the person was considered to be in priority need or to have become homeless intentionally.

And councils would have to make sure that emergency accommodation was available for up to 56 days to anyone who didn’t have a safe place to stay.

Under current laws, half of the 115,000 people who applied to a local authority for help to avoid homelessness last year were not entitled to support.

And one third of people sleeping rough for the first time in London who were helped by No Second Night Out service had asked for help from a council in the last12 months.

One of the rough sleepers surveyed by St Mungo’s said: “I was actually really appalled at how bad the council was. I was expecting them to help but it just doesn’t work. It’s horrible, it’s demoralising and you already feel like less of a person.”

The charities, and the MPs on the Communities and Local Government Select Committee who support the bill, believe that the new law would prevent suffering, and would save the NHS money by preventing the harm that homelessness causes.

However, if fewer than 100 MPs attend the debate on 28 October, the bill could be scrapped without even going to a vote. So campaigners are writing to their MPs to call on them to support the Bill by attending the debate and voting in favour of it.