Homelessness Reduction Bill passes second reading

The Bill, aimed at reducing rough sleeping and other forms of homelessness, will now enter the next stage.

 

Homeless Westminster families rehoused 54 miles away

 

The Homelessness Reduction Bill has now been passed through to the Committee Stage.

A Bill supported by all parties across the house was always likely to pass, but it needed at least 100 MPs for it to ensure it went through.

After passionate speeches from MPs across the chamber on their own constituent’s experiences of homelessness, the government reiterated their support for the Bill.

There were some concerns with the Bill however, with many pointing to the fact there needed to be a proper funding model in place for local authorities, as well as ensuring more social housing is built.

Many MPs pointed to the practice in Scotland and Wales, where the direction of travel on housing and homelessness has been a lot more positive.

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP, spoke about the importance of ending the Right to Buy and protecting stock in Scotland.

London members of parliament were concerned about their local councils, who are currently struggling under the pressure of a severe homelessness problem as rents continue to spiral.

Marcus Jones, DCLG minister, said the government will meet the costs of the Bill for local authorities and said the Bill would see more innovative approaches to homelessness.

He said: “The government is proud to support this important Bill. One person without a home is one too many.”

Crisis Chief Executive, Jon Sparkes, said: “This is a landmark moment, and we’d like to thank the 100+ MPs from across the political spectrum who came together to back this unique bill, as well as Government ministers for offering their support at such a critical time.

“We still have a long way to go before this bill becomes law, but we’ll be there every step of the way to help make sure that happens. For 40 years we’ve had a system that fails too many homeless people. Time and again we hear from people who were turned away from help when they needed it most, despite the fact they had nowhere left to go. Yet if councils get the funding to make it work, the Homelessness Reduction Bill could help put an end to that injustice once and for all.

“We have the momentum and we have the cross party consensus, and today’s success shows what can be done when people come together to tackle homelessness. Yet this is no time for complacency. We must continue to build on what we’ve achieved today, both to get the bill through parliament and to make it work for homeless people if and when it finally becomes law.”

Dominic Williamson, Executive Director of Strategy and Policy at St Mungo’s, said: “If the Homelessness Reduction Bill becomes law, it will be a major step towards ensuring help to prevent and tackle homelessness is available to everyone. It will fill a gap in legislation that means many people get little or no support to avoid the dangers of sleeping rough.

“The number of people sleeping without a roof over their head in England is increasing, having doubled since 2010. Rough sleeping ruins lives and too many people are dying on our streets. We know that 129 rough sleepers have died in London in the last six years.

“Local Government Minister Marcus Jones said during today’s debate that “no one should have to sleep rough to get the help they need”. This is an important and welcome commitment and one we will be watching closely to make sure there are arrangements in every area that make it a reality.”

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The bill represents a historic chance to pass legislation to help provide many more people with the support they so desperately need at a time when homelessness continues to rise.

“The issues raised during the debate demonstrate that passing a law which imposes a duty on local authorities to house homeless people will only get us so far.

“Fundamental to tackling homelessness is an increase in supply and this means ensuring there are enough genuinely affordable homes for people on low incomes – this is something we continue to work with government to achieve.

“We are also urging the government to follow up its backing for this bill with adequate funding to ensure local authorities can implement measures effectively. In addition, there must be a cross-departmental commitment to a long-term strategy to tackle homelessness.”

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