by Bethan Hall | 8 March 2017
For years we have seen demand for affordable housing outstrip supply, rents rapidly rise above incomes and affordable housing lists grow. Subsequently, once again one of the major housing crisis’ we face nationally is homelessness.
Under current legislation, homeless people are not considered a ‘priority’, with many being turned away when they approach their local authority for help. The homeless reduction bill is a newly proposed law making its way through parliament that aims to change this. It will require councils to prevent and relieve homelessness regardless of priority need, extend the time that households are considered at risk of homelessness, and house those at risk in emergency accommodation.
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 England from 2015 to 2016 and major aim of the legislation is to alleviate such statistics nationwide.
St Mungo’s believe it is “a momentous opportunity to improve the current legislation to prevent and tackle homelessness in England more effectively, at a time when rough sleeping is continuing to rise.”
Saving government money in the long-term: Crisis, a leading homeless charity is another organisation backing the bill.
Matthew Downie, Director of Policy believes in the longer term the bill will save money for both local and national government by helping to prevent homelessness earlier and minimising 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. Other cost incurrences have been highlighted to arise from the proposed increase in staffing numbers needed to fulfil the new duties.
Lewisham Council alone has estimated an extra £2.3 million will be needed a year. To counteract this, the government have proposed a further £48 million funding for council’s to help them deliver new and expanded services.
What lies ahead?
Homelessness is a subject that has been in the public eye for years, yet one that has been easily overlooked for decades.
With the UK being one of the wealthiest countries, the level of homelessness we now face and the poor attempts to reduce them is unacceptable.
Many will be in support of a government plan to bring in a proactive homelessness duty on local authorities, however, the proposed legislation is surrounded by complex arguments, challenges and judicial reviews that cannot be ignored.
Subsequently, debates continue and it still remains to be seen whether this will be the beginning of a resolution to one of the many current housing crisis' the UK faces.