The 'Homelessness Reduction Bill' has received a second reading in parliament. Under the bill’s provisions to reduce homelessness, local authorities will have to help anyone who is at risk of becoming homeless within the next 56 days, instead of 28 days as at present. All applicants will be assessed and given a personal housing plan, which will include their current circumstances, desired outcome and steps to be taken by both themselves and the authority.
Having initially expressed reservations, the Local Government Association is backing the bill – as long as its provisions are funded properly. A report in August by the communities and local government committee identified three main reasons for the increase in homelessness:
- A shortage of social or affordable housing
- Benefit cuts
- Rising private sector rents
About one third of households accepted as homeless by English councils have been evicted by private landlords. In some cases, their housing benefit, fixed in line with local housing allowance (LHA) rates, is below private rent levels.
Including council programmes, about £500m will be spent on preventing homelessness during the spending review period to 2019-20, the government estimates.
If the bill becomes law, local authorities in England will be in a similar position to those in Wales, where councils have had to help households who are at risk of being homeless in the next 56 days since 2015. Of the 7,128 households that approached Welsh councils in 2015-16, two thirds were prevented from becoming homeless for at least six months.
source public finance 01.12.16