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Crisis responds to the King’s Speech

Today, in the King’s Speech, the government has unveiled its legislative agenda for the next parliamentary year which includes:

  • Legislation to strengthen rights for tenants through the Renters (Reform) Bill.
  • Laws to reform the purchase of leaseholds through the Leasehold and Freehold Bill.

Prior to the King’s Speech, reports in the Financial Times suggested that the government was planning to introduce legislation which would criminalise the use of tents in urban areas by people rough sleeping, and place a civil penalty on charities providing tents to people sleeping on the streets. Following robust challenge from the homelessness sector these proposals were not mentioned in the King’s Speech today.

Matt Downie, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “We’re pleased that the government appears to have listened to the concerns raised by the homelessness sector and wider public, and is reconsidering the hugely damaging proposals to criminalise the use of tents by people sleeping rough. As we have said time and time again, these punitive laws cause untold harm to some of the most marginalised people in society and only serve to push them further away from crucial help.

“Only last year, the government committed in law to repeal the Vagrancy Act. It's vital it does so, instead of trying to bring back this cruel legislation by the back door.

“Energy must now be spent on introducing the solutions we know will end homelessness. These include unfreezing housing benefit at the Autumn Statement and funding programmes like Housing First which would mean no-one would be forced to sleep rough in the first place.

“The government has presided over rising homelessness. It now has a choice to make on whether it implements the policies that will start to turn the tide.”

 
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