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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
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
SW1A 2AA

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.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

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