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Housing

Homelessness Reduction Bill Becomes Law

Hailed by housing charities, the bill to reduce homelessness becomes an act of parliament today

Charities have hailed the passing of a Homelessness Reduction Bill, which becomes an act of parliament today after it gained royal assent.

It places a legal duty on councils to give people meaningful support to try to resolve their homelessness, as well as introducing measures to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.

The government will be providing £61million to local authorities to help meet the costs of providing extra help and advice to homeless people, and people are risk of losing their home.

Conservative backbench MP Bob Blackman (below, with communities minister Sajid Javid), who first introduced the bill, said on Twitter that it was the priciest private member’s bill ever passed.

With a general election campaign underway, housing and homelessness bodies urged politicians to now go further and commit to ending rough sleeping. The number of people sleeping rough in England has risen by 16% in the last year and has more than doubled in the last five.

This act is by no means a cure-all

“The Homelessness Reduction Act is a crucial step forward in fighting homelessness,” said Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis. “For 40 years we’ve had a system that fails too many homeless people by turning them away from help when they need it most.”

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“But this act is by no means a cure-all and, at a time when the number of people sleeping on our streets continues to rise at an alarming rate, we are calling on all political parties to commit to ending rough sleeping in their upcoming manifestos.

Claire McMenemy, a client of the St Mungo’s charity, who slept rough for over thirty years after running away from home, said more should be done to help people get off the streets.

“It’s great that the law is being changed to help people who are facing homelessness,” she said. “It should be a top priority. I know the dangers that people face and how you can get stuck on the streets.

“My mental health suffered a lot and I believe more needs to be done to help people like me who end up sleeping rough.”

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