Chance for breakthrough on homelessness after MPs back crucial bill
The Communities and Local Government Committee has today (18 August) published the final report from its wide ranging inquiry into homelessness in which it fully endorses the 'Homelessness Reduction Bill' - a private members bill proposed by Bob Blackman, Conservative MP and committee member, with the aim of tackling and preventing homelessness in England (see notes).
Responding, Crisis Chief Executive, Jon Sparkes said: “Today’s Select Committee report should be a clarion call for action, while the ‘Homelessness Reduction Bill’ proposed by Bob Blackman MP could be the start of one of the most important developments for tackling homelessness in nearly 40 years.
“In an almost unprecedented move, the committee has agreed to endorse and scrutinise this much-needed bill. Homelessness is one of the great social injustices of our time, and there is now a clear cross-party consensus that if we’re to put an end to it once and for all then we need a change in the law so that all homeless people can get the help they need.
“As part of Theresa May’s social justice agenda, we urge the Government to show its commitment by supporting the bill and taking on the recommendations of the committee. We also call on MPs of all political persuasions to back the bill during its critical second reading stage in October.
“The Government has already recognised the lack of help available to many homeless people, and has pledged to consider “options including legislation”, but now is the time for action. The bill draws on the recommendations of an expert panel convened by Crisis, and we’ll be working closely with Mr Blackman and other parliamentarians to help make this a reality.
“Yet as the committee rightly recognises in its report, for such a law to work, it needs to be supported by a cross departmental strategy that drives homelessness prevention across public services, as well as measures to help private renting become a solution to homelessness rather than a cause of it.
“We cannot sit back and watch as the homelessness crisis deepens. We can and must take action. As we approach the 50th anniversary of Cathy Come Home, I hope that with enough determination, the next fifty years will see homelessness finally becoming a thing of the past.”
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Notes to editors
The ‘Homelessness Reduction Bill put forward by Bob Blackman MP is due for its second reading on 28 October. It proposes:
- A new duty for local authorities to take action to prevent the homelessness of anyone eligible for assistance (eg ‘habitually resident’ in the UK) and threatened with homelessness within 56 days, without regard to their priority need status.
- A new duty for local authorities to take steps to relieve the homelessness of anyone who is currently homeless, eligible for assistance and has a local connection to the area.
- For households who not in priority need but have nowhere to stay, the local authority must provide emergency interim accommodation for up to 56 days.
- The full homelessness duty of settled accommodation will remain in place for households who are eligible for assistance, homeless through no fault of their own, have a local connection, are in priority need and where the prevention and relief duties have failed.
- A new duty to cooperate will be introduced for applicants who are homeless or threatened with homelessness to ensure households take reasonable steps to resolve their own homelessness.