Housing

Homelessness Reduction Bill passes first Parliamentary hurdle

The Homelessness Reduction Bill was passed by MPs on Friday without a single vote against

The Homelessness Reduction Bill received broad support in Parliament today without a single vote against it..

The government recently pledged its “full and unfettered” support for the bill, tabled by Conservative backbench MP Bob Blackman, which would force councils in England to offer greater support to the homeless.

It will now move forward to the next stage for further parliamentary scrutiny.

If passed, the bill place a new duty on councils to prevent the homelessness of anyone eligible for assistance within 56 days, regardless of their “priority need” status. Single people are not typically regarded as priority need by local authorities.

In this day and age, homelessness is something that comes as a result of many different causes

It has been widely supported by homelessness charities, and will also change 40-year rules penalizing single people trying to get help with housing.

Mr Blackman said it was a “national disgrace” that a single person should have to sleep rough. He added that this bill will go towards eradicating the “social disease” of homelessness.

He said: “In this day and age, homelessness is something that comes as a result of many different causes.

“What we as Members of Parliament know is that the result of homelessness is often that someone who reaches that crisis in their lives will naturally go to their local authority seeking help.

“They will often be told: ‘Go home, wait until the bailiffs arrive and come back’.”

Former housing minister Mark Prisk said: “I think this Bill offers a great opportunity to reduce but not remove homelessness.

“I think we all know and understand that it is an important opportunity – an opportunity to focus on prevention, an opportunity to raise the standards of advice and support across the country, and it’s an opportunity to ensure that more people get help sooner.”

Pledging the government’s support for the bill earlier this week, communities secretary Javid said: “No one should have to sleep rough on the streets. We want to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That’s why we are determined to do all we can to help those who lose their homes and provide them with the support they need to get their lives back on track.”

No one should have to sleep rough on the streets

Bob Blackman’s original bill placed a new requirement on councils to at least provide emergency temporary accommodation for 56 days to people not deemed in priority need but able to demonstrate a local connection.

But it has been dropped from the bill after councils claimed such a duty would place too much pressure on them.

Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, welcomed the news. Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive, said: “This is a landmark moment, and we’d like to thank the 100+ MPs from across the political spectrum who came together to back this unique bill, as well as Government ministers for offering their support at such a critical time.”

This also follows last week’s announcement from Prime Minister Theresa May in the 25th anniversary edition of The Big Issue, who revealed a new £40m funding package to “prevent and tackle the causes of homelessness”.

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