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

 

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Second Reading of Homelessness Reduction Bill 11/11/2016

The Homelessness Reduction Bill introduced as a Private Members Bill now has the backing of the Government and received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 28 October. 

 

In a previous bulletin, we reported the publication of the CLG Select Committee's report on Homelessness and the publication on 29 June by Bob Blackman MP of a Private Members Bill proposing significant reform of current homelessness legislation. 

 

ARCH Briefing 15/2016, published on 30 September, summarised the main provisions of the Bill and reported that the CLG Select Committee was carrying out an inquiry into its provisions and likely impact. The Select Committee published the findings of its Inquiry on 13 October, including recommendations for a number of amendments to the Bill. 

 

A revised version of the Bill including the Select Committee's amendments was published on 21 October and passed its Second Reading on 28 October with Government and all-party support. The Bill is now awaiting a date for consideration in Commons Committee.

 

In introducing the Bill at Second Reading Bob Blackman MP said:

 

"The aim of the Bill is to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place and to prevent people from ever having to sleep rough. In case anyone misunderstands the level of homelessness, rough sleeping has doubled since 2010. It was up 30% last year alone, with 3,569 people reported as sleeping rough on any one night in 2014. In London, 8,096 people slept rough at some point in 2015-16, an increase of 7% from 2014-15. Last year, 112,330 people in England made a homelessness application, a 26% rise since 2009-10, with 54,430 accepted as homeless and in need of assistance.​"

 

"If we combat homelessness at an early stage before it becomes a crisis, we will save money in the long run for local authorities. Research commissioned by Crisis, based on in-depth interviews with 86 people who have experienced homelessness, estimates that £742,141 of public money was spent on 86 cases during a 90-day period of homelessness. Overall public spending would fall by £370 million if 40,000 people were prevented from experiencing one year of homelessness, based on an average reduction in public spending of £9,266 per person a year".

 

Notwithstanding the potential long-term savings, the Bill is likely to require local housing authorities to help secure accommodation for a significantly increased number of applicants at a time when there is an acute shortage of affordable housing, whether owned by councils, housing associations or private landlords and the financial implications for local authorities may be substantial.

 

In speaking to the Bill at Second Reading the Minister Marcus Jones gave a commitment to fund the additional costs of the Bill saying:

 

"The Bill will place a duty on local authorities to take reasonable steps to prevent homelessness for eligible households threatened with homelessness. It will also ensure that other local services refer those who are either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams, and that care leavers are more easily able to establish a local connection and so are not deterred from seeking support, should they need it."

 

"The Bill will make a real difference; it offers support to a much wider group of people who need it than the existing legislation does, which is why I am today pleased to offer the House the Government's full and unfettered support for the Bill. I can confirm that the Government will fund the additional costs of the Bill, in line with the long-standing new burdens arrangements."

 

While the Government have acknowledged that additional expenditure will be required it has not yet published its assessment of the likely amount but it is anticipated that financial provision will be included in the Autumn Statement due on 23 November.

 

ARCH Policy Adviser, Matthew Warburton, has prepared a briefing for our members on the provisions of the Bill as they now stand following the Second Reading.

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