New Efforts to Tackle Homelessness – The Homeless Reduction Bill25-Apr-2017
The Government has recently confirmed that Councils are to receive a further £48 million funding to help them deliver new and expanded services to prevent
and reduce homelessness.
For quite some time the demand for affordable housing has overtaken supply; with rents now exceeding incomes and the list to apply for affordable housing getting bigger.
As a result one of the major housing crisis’ being faced nationally is homelessness. Under current rulings, homeless people are not seen to be priority; with many not being able to get help from relevant authorities when they approach them for help.
The Homelessness Reduction Bill looks to change this.
Separated into various measures, local authorities are obliged to help all people who qualify for 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness. This help will be available regardless of whether they are single or a family; and those who are already homeless will get support for another 56 days to help them secure somewhere to stay.
Other services will also be needed to refer homeless people or those at risk to local authority housing teams who can provide them with free information and advice services.
This will mean that councils will look to prevent and reduce the pressure of homelessness regardless of priority need, lengthen the time that households are considered to be at risk of being homeless; and to house those at risk in emergency accommodation.
There are various aspects which can be taken away from the Bill.
Decrease in homelessness
The latest figures from the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) report found there was a 30 percent increase in people sleeping rough in the year 2015 – 2016. The main intention of the ruling is to reduce this amount.
The sentiment from St Mungo’s, the author of CHAIN, is that the improvement of the law as it stands is a meaningful opportunity which would prevent and tackle homelessness in England more effectively; this during a time when rough sleeping continues to rise.
Saving government money in the long-term
Crisis, a homeless charity is another organisation that backs the bill.
The sentiment from Crisis is that the bill will save money for both local and national government in the longer term; and it would be doing this by helping to prevent homelessness earlier and minimise the money spent on temporary accommodation and support.
Increased cost to councils
The greatest cost incurred to councils is projected to be from the increase in need for private rented temporary accommodation, as well as possible increase in staffing numbers needed to achieve the new duties.
As an example, Lewisham Council had stated an extra £2.3 million a year would possibly be needed; and so in response to this the Government have set aside the £48 million funding for council’s to help them provide new and expanded services.
For more information, visit the Government website.