Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Help for homeless moves closer to law

December 05 2016
The Homelessness Reduction Bill passed its second reading in the Commons and has government support.

Laws which would force councils to help more single homeless people and those at risk of losing their homes have come a step closer to reality after getting cross-party support from MPs.

The government pledged its full support for the Homelessness Reduction Bill, which passed its second reading in the House of Commons on 28 October. The MPs who attended gave their unanimous support. The proposed laws, which will now be scrutinised by a committee of MPs, would mean local authorities had to move away from “priority housing lists” and help everyone who was homeless.

This would sort out the system that sees single homeless people turned away by local authorities and end up on the streets. Councils would also have to help anyone who is 56 days away from homelessness to find a new place to live. Currently they don’t have to help until someone is 28 days away from losing their home.

Conservative MP Bob Blackman, who proposed the new laws, called for a “culture change in councils”. He said it was time to stop “crisis management” and do more to prevent homelessness in the first place.

The government has pledged to fund the extra costs to councils arising from the changes it proposes. Labour MPs also supported the bill, but called for more funding and house building as well.
Homeless charities who have been campaigning to have the Bill passed, welcomed the news.

Dominic Williamson, of St Mungo's Broadway, said: “If the Homelessness Reduction Bill becomes law, it will be a major step towards ensuring help to prevent and tackle homelessness is available to everyone.”

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, added: “This is a landmark moment, and we’d like to thank the 100+ MPs from across the political spectrum who came together to back this unique Bill, as well as government ministers for offering their support at such a critical time.”

But he said the work was just beginning. The charity will campaign to take ensure the Bill becomes law, and also make it work for homeless people.

Chairman of the Local Government Association Lord Porter raised concerns about the lack of available housing. “It is clear that legislative change alone will not resolve homelessness,” he said.

“If we are all to succeed, then all new duties proposed in the Bill will need to be fully funded. Councils need powers to resume our role as a major builder of affordable homes.”