A Private Members Bill has been proposed by Bob Blackman (Conservative MP for Harrow East) that aims to reduce homelessness in England by making local councils more accountable in terms of the homelessness advice they are providing people faced with homelessness and putting stronger duties on councils to prevent people becoming homeless.
The Bill draws it’s recommendations from recent reports from Homeless charity Crisis (along with other housing groups) report “No One Turned Away – Changing the law to prevent and tackle homelessness” which recommends homelessness prevention action performed by local councils which also recommends extending councils’ duties in securing accommodation for all households, regardless of priority need status.
In the London areas many councils are concerned about their ability in coping with the large increases they are seeing in terms of homelessness. The bill will impose on councils a requirement to clearly demonstrate they have offered advice to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and ensure that local authorities are given clear guidance in intervening and liaising with private landlords to prevent an eviction taking place against private tenants. It would also introduce stronger legislation and provide a 2 month period before notice is passed making people homeless, during which they could ask for homelessness assistance. The bill has also been drafted from the advice of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s findings, of which Mr Blackman is a Parliamentary member who also will soon be publishing their report into homelessness in England.
The Bill will have it’s second reading this week and a second hearing is planned for 26th October 2016.
Mr Blackman said: “The aim [of the bill] is to reduce the extent of homelessness in this country and enable people in a range of categories to obtain the support they need, and also for local authorities to embark upon homelessness prevention duties which actually save money in the long-term.” He also added “I am delighted to announce that my Private Members’ Bill will focus on preventing and tackling homelessness in England. During the CLG Committee’s recent inquiry into homelessness, I heard disturbing first-hand accounts from people who’d been forced to sleep on the streets because they couldn’t get the help they needed. We cannot stand by and allow this to continue. That’s why I’m calling on my fellow MPs to help put an end to this injustice once and for all by supporting my Bill. It’s not a cure-all, but it will be a major step forward in tackling homelessness”
Crisis Chief Executive Jon Sparkes said: “This bill could transform how we tackle homelessness in England. It offers an historic opportunity, and if passed, would represent one of the most important developments for homelessness in nearly 40 years.
“Homelessness isn’t inevitable, yet the law as it stands in England means that single homeless people who go to their councils for help can be turned away with no option but to sleep on the streets. This is unacceptable.”