Open letter to the Prime Minister calling for emergency homelessness legislation
On Monday 6th July, Crisis wrote to the Prime Minister in a letter co-signed by over 40 other homelessness and migrant organisations across the country.
The letter called on the Government to urgently introduce emergency homelessness legislation to protect people facing homelessness during the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation, proposed by Crisis, has been drafted by Garden Court Chambers on behalf of the charity.
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street
CC: The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP
The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP
The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP
Dear Prime Minister,
Over the past few months, we have seen thousands of people who were homeless, and therefore particularly exposed to the risk of coronavirus, housed in emergency accommodation and able to self-isolate as a result of your ‘Everyone In’ directive. Each of our organisations have welcomed the unprecedented support provided through this scheme, based on need alone. Many of us working directly with those in this accommodation have seen people thrive with a safe place to temporarily call home.
Last week’s announcement of an additional £105 million of funding will certainly help councils continue to provide temporary accommodation to people experiencing homelessness. However, as a sector, we are concerned that money alone won’t provide a guarantee of safe and secure accommodation for everyone who needs it.
Despite councils’ best efforts, the support in place to get people into accommodation has been patchy and inconsistent because of the current legal barriers. As we move forward, this risks a piecemeal, disjointed approach that particularly disadvantages people who are often locked out of support, including those with no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status. This situation is made all the more urgent by the fact communal shelters will not be able to re-open safely while coronavirus still poses a risk, and as the winter approaches there must continue to be a safe route off the street for everyone.
We are proposing, as one solution, emergency homelessness legislation to be put in place to guarantee everyone experiencing homelessness has the security of a safe and settled home throughout the pandemic. This will ensure that when we say ‘Everyone in’, we truly mean everyone, and deliver on the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.
We urge the Government to act on this unique opportunity to end rough sleeping and protect those likely to face it in the near future, as the economic impact of the pandemic takes hold, by introducing legislation that:
• Ensures everyone with nowhere safe to stay has access to emergency accommodation by introducing a duty, backed by funding, for local authorities in England to provide emergency accommodation over the next 12 months.
• Lifts the ‘no recourse to public funds’ restrictions for 12 months so people can access Universal Credit and homelessness assistance, and also suspends the habitual residence test for the same length of time.
• Protects people from being evicted from their homes through no fault of their own if they have been unable to pay their rent as a result of the outbreak.
• Suspends the benefit cap to prevent people from becoming homeless if they are unable to return to work in the next few months.
We have attached a fully drafted potential Bill for these purposes, in the hope this is helpful, and we are keen to speed progress in our shared ambition to end rough sleeping in England.
Jon Sparkes, Crisis
Dominic Williamson, St Mungos
Rick Henderson, Homeless Link
Alison Newman, The Big Issue Foundation
Satbir Singh, The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Nazek Ramadan, Migrant Voice
Maurice Wren, Refugee Council
Paul Hook, Asylum Matters
Hazel Williams, NACCOM
Fizza Qureshi, Migrants’ Rights Network
Natasha Walter, Women for Refugee Women
Julie Bishop, Law Centres Network
Jessica Turtle, Museum of Homelessness
Kathy Mohan, Housing Justice
Bill Tidnam, Thames reach
Dr Steven Platts, Groundswell
Pam Orchard, The Connection at St Martin’s
Lucy Abraham, Glass Door Homeless Charity
Peter Davey, The Bridge (East Midlands)
Jean Templeton, St Basils
Lorraine Healy, St Wilfrid’s Centre
James Boultbee, Wycombe Homeless Connection
Ashley Horsey, Commonweal Housing
Sylvia Ingmire, Roma Support Group
Michael Chandler, Union Chapel and Margins Project
Dr Jan Sheldon, St Martins
Jonathan Sutton, St Paul’s Hostel
David Morris, Noah Enterprise
Paul Roberts, Aspire Oxford
Jeremy Gray, Evolve Housing + Support
Amanda Dubarry, Caritas Anchor House
Steve Ellis, St Petrocs
Amanda Croome, Booth Centre
Anela Anwar, Z2K
Emily Bell, The Shrewsbury Ark
Mark Wood, Colchester Korban Project
Jackie Bliss, HARP
Sarah Hernandez, Derventio Housing Trust
Julian Prior, Action Foundation
Carly Jones, SIFA Fireside