Homelessness Reduction Bill moves to the House of Lords

Friday, 27 January 2017 - 4:09pm

The Homelessness Reduction Bill has passed the relevant stages in the House of Commons. It will now move to the House of Lords for its first reading on the 24 February 2017.

The Bill places a new duty on local authorities to help prevent the homelessness of all families and single people, regardless of priority need, who are eligible for assistance and threatened with homelessness. A new duty is also placed on public services to notify a local authority if they come into contact with someone they think may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

There have been a number of changes to the Bill since it was introduced, including:

  • Removal of the requirement for local authorities to provide 56-days emergency accommodation for homeless people and rough sleepers with no safe place to stay. Homeless link is disappointed about this and would have welcomed resources committed to deliver this requirement.
  • Clarification that a local authority’s duty to prevent homelessness begins on receipt of a valid section 21 notice. This duty will continue until the council accepts a homelessness relief duty to the household, or their situation is resolved. 
  • A limitation on the circumstances in which households can be found to be non-cooperative. Only instances where households refuse to carry out a step agreed in their personalised plan can be considered as a failure to cooperate.

Local Government Minister Marcus Jones today announced that English councils are to receive £61 million in funding to help them meet the costs of the legislation (rising from £48 million announced last week). The intention is that the distribution model for subsidy will reflect the differing need across various local authorities, and additional money may be made available for those in high pressure areas to manage the transition as the new duties take effect.

He further announced that there will be a review of the implementation of the Bill, including the resourcing of it and how it is working in practice, after two years.

Homeless Link was part of an expert panel, convened by Crisis, responsible for the work underpinning the Bill, and so we are keen to see this draft legislation become law. It is really encouraging to see the Government’s commitment to the Bill, which will make huge leaps in helping some of the country’s most vulnerable people. We welcome the financial backing and commitment to review to ensure that the Bill is fully funded, and councils are not left out of pocket.

We would like to thank our members for all their help with progressing the Bill to date.