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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

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Queen’s Speech and future housing legislation 28/04/2016

The government's legislative programme for the 2016/17 Parliamentary session will be announced in the Queen's Speech at the State Opening of Parliament on 18 May.

 

The government has already set out many of its policies on housing in the Housing and Planning Bill introduced in the current Parliamentary session. It's not anticipated that housing will feature heavily in the potential subjects of legislation for the 2016/17 Parliament session; perhaps with the exception of homelessness and extension of some form of equity share arrangements for council tenants.

 

Homelessness

 

It's worth remembering that on 17 December 2015, Communities Minister Marcus Jones confirmed that he would be working with homelessness organisations and Government departments to explore options, including legislation, to prevent more people from facing a homelessness crisis.

 

ARCH has no further information on any proposed changes to statutory homelessness duties in England. However, we would not be surprised if a future Queen's Speech signalled potential changes to homelessness legislation in England to mirror that introduced recently in Wales designed to strengthen homelessness prevention for all, rather than just those in priority need groups.

 

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 introduced a fundamental reform to homelessness legislation designed to strengthen homelessness prevention for all, rather than solely those in priority need groups. It including:

 

  • a new duty to help anyone threatened with homelessness within the next 56 days
  • a duty to provide help to any homeless person to help them secure a home
  • a power rather than a duty to apply the intentionality test
  • new powers for local authorities to discharge their homelessness duties through finding accommodation in the private rented sector
  • Stronger duties on housing associations to support local authorities in carrying out their homelessness duties.

 

ARCH Chief Executive John Bibby comments:

 

"It remains to be seen whether any announcements on homelessness legislation will be included in the Queen's Speech. If it is, then any extension of responsibilities on local authorities will need to carry additional financial resources with it - particularly in light of the current upward trend in homelessness presentations and the length of stay in temporary accommodation in England; which will only be exacerbated over the next three years by the duty proposed in the Housing and Planning Bill to require councils to sell their high-value housing as it becomes vacant."

 

Equity Share

 

In his March Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced that: "The government will explore ways to extend homeownership to social tenants who cannot afford to take advantage of existing schemes"

 

No further details have been announced. However, ARCH understands officials at the DCLG have been tasked at looking into ways in which council tenants, who cannot afford the Right to Buy, may be enabled to take some form of equity stake in their home that may enable them to staircase into home ownership in the future. This might mirror the Voluntary Deal struck with housing associations which requires them to commit to"the aim of making available to their tenants the opportunity to acquire a stake in a home which can increase over time".

 

While this commitment was signalled in the Budget, it may be too early for the government to bring forward legislative proposals in the Queen's Speech for the next Parliamentary session.

 

ARCH will provide its members with a detailed briefing on any proposed housing legislation that may be announced in the Queen's Speech.

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