Homelessness Reduction Bill

On 27th January 2017, the Homelessness Reduction Bill had its third and final reading in the House of Commons. This is a Private Member's Bill that was introduced by Conservative MP, Bob Blackman. It brings much needed reform to England's homelessness legislation and Crisis are calling it "one of the most important developments for homelessness in nearly 40 years."

Jackie said: “I am pleased that it is Conservatives who have taken up the challenge of tackling homelessness. At this time of year we should take time to think about those sleeping rough. There but for the grace of god go anyone of us. Given the failure over decades to build enough housing, the result has been rising rents which leaves tenants vulnerable to landlords who can always let properties at ever increasing rents. Until we tackle the problem of under-supply and build more houses, homelessness will be a challenge so we must make sure that local authorities are able to help those who fall on hard times.”

Provisions of the Bill

In part and parcel of this Bill, the Government have introduced a package of £48 million to support local Councils in tackling homelessness.

The Bill has three main provisions. It will:

  • Provide a prevention duty

This means that local authorities will be tasked with a new duty to take action and prevent homelessness of anyone who is eligible for assistance, and threatened with homelessness within 56 days. Under current legislation, single homeless people who go to their local councils for help in England are often turned away because they are not considered a “priority”.

  • Provide a relief duty

This will create a new duty for local authorities – under the Bill’s reforms, they will have to take steps to relieve the homelessness of anyone who is currently homeless, eligible for assistance or has a local connection to the area. The Bill also focuses on early prevention and intervention to help ensure that homelessness is tackled at the earliest point for all households and resources are used most efficiently.

  • Provide a duty to cooperate

Meaning provisions will be created to ensure that households are expected to take reasonable steps to resolve their own homelessness. This overall represents a unique opportunity to address the lack of entitlement to support many homeless people.

THE BILL’S PROGRESSION THROUGH PARLIAMENT

The Bill had its First Reading in Parliament on 29th June 2016, with the Second taking place on 28th October. It then began its lengthy Committee Stage for further scrutiny – which took place throughout November, December and January – before coming back to the House of Commons for its third reading and Report Stage on 27th January 2017.

The Bill largely has largely seen support from all sides of the House. During the Committee period, Members heard from Landlord Associations, Local Government bodies and charities, who helped to expose any areas of improvements to avoid unintended consequences. After hearing from colleagues across the housing sector, the Government tabled a number of amendments that were in line with what they had heard. Unfortunately, the Labour party also tabled three amendments to the Bill just before the Third Reading, which were unworkable within the constraints of the Bill. Labour did not propose these amendments at Committee Stage, when all sides would have had ample time and opportunity to debate them.

Thankfully, the Bill passed its Third Reading regardless of Labour’s plan to get it thrown out and now continues its journey onto the House of Lords.

Links

First reading debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-06-29/debates/16062967000002…

Second reading debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-28/debates/D25DDE1B-CE4D-…

Third reading debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-01-27/debates/9B0EADC0-6050-…

Attachments

Attachment Size
Briefing Paper as the Bill was introduced in June 2016 157.23 KB