On Monday 24 October, Sajid Javid, Communities Secretary,
confirmed that the government will support the Homelessness
Reduction Private Members Bill introduced by Bob Blackman MP.
The Bill requires local authorities to provide new homelessness
services to all those affected, as well as those who are protected
under existing legislation.
It will place a duty on local authorities to help eligible
people at risk of homelessness to secure accommodation 56 days
before they are threatened with homelessness. It requires councils
to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a
further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation.
The bill will also ensure that other local services refer those
either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority
The Bill was published on Friday 21 October 2016 and will have
its Second Reading in the House of Commons on Friday 28 October
Unusually, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee
has reviewed the Bill in advance of its Second Reading and has
produced a report recommending changes to the Bill,
which include adding domestic violence victims to the list of
people for whose needs a local authority's advice must be
especially designed to meet. The Committee also calls for
consideration of a stronger duty for councils to accommodate
certain groups within a reasonable distance of their last address,
such as those with mental health conditions or with children in
Among further changes recommended to the Bill by the Select
Committee in advance of its Second Reading in the Commons Chamber
on Friday 28 October 2016, were recommendations to:
- Reword Clause 8: Becoming homeless intentionally because it is
too broad and should be redrafted to ensure protections for
vulnerable people in priority need are not weakened.
- Revise Clause 9: Somewhere safe to stay to restrict the duty
for councils to provide 56 days of emergency accommodation to those
whose safety is at risk. It is not feasible for local authorities
to provide accommodation to all homeless people.
- Remove Clause 12: Definition of local connection. The Committee
does not believe that there is consensus for changes to the
- Amend Clause 14: Reviews of decisions to restrict the scope of
reviews because of the potential impact on local authority
resources of a significant increase in such cases.
- Reinforce Clause 17: Co-operation between authorities and
others with statutory guidance to make it clear that the diversion
of funds away from a body's primary duties is not a reason to
withhold co-operation with measures to reduce homelessness.
Further information about the Bill can be found in a recent
House of Commons' briefing paper.
The government's decision to support the Bill comes hot on the
heels of the announcement earlier this month of a
£40 million homelessness prevention programme to encourage
innovative approaches to tackling homelessness. This includes:
- a new £10 million rough sleeping prevention fund to help
individuals who might be struggling to get by from ending up on the
street; it will also provide rapid and targeted interventions for
new rough sleepers, such as helping them to access employment and
- details of £20 million for local authorities to trial new
initiatives, responding to the specific needs in their communities
and focusing on prevention at an earlier stage; these areas will
work with a wider group of at risk people to help families and
individuals before they reach crisis point - including through new
resident advice services and outreach work with landlords and
private sector tenants
- a further £10 million Social Impact Bond programme has also
been launched to help long-term rough sleepers who may be bouncing
chaotically through the housing system - to address underlying
issues such as poor mental health or substance abuse to help stop
them from living on, and returning to, the streets.
In announcing its support for the Homeless Reduction Bill, the
government claimed that the number of people found to be homeless
is down by 58% from the 2003 to 2004 peak and that it has protected
homelessness prevention funding that goes to local authorities,
which will reach £315 million by 2020.
"Although the number of people found to be homeless is
substantially down on the 2003/04 peak, the fact is, as
official statistics show, homelessness is on the rise
and the number of people found to be homeless has increased
significantly since the Conservative led Coalition Government was
elected in 2010.
"Councils already do a great deal to help people threatened with
homelessness and took action to prevent 50,990 households from
becoming homeless in the period April to June 2016 and helped a
further 3,910 "non-priority" households out of homelessness".
"The danger with this Bill is that, unless it's supported by the
provision of additional financial resources, local councils will
struggle to deliver the additional responsibilities placed on them
by the Bill as it stands. ARCH would argue that the only long-term
solution to homelessness is an increase in the supply of social