Westminster Diary

This month, in April 2018, The Homelessness Reduction Act, the most ambitious legislative reform of homelessness in decades, is being implemented.

The Act will transform the culture of homelessness service delivery by ensuring that all English local authorities, public services and the third sector work together to actively prevent homelessness for people at risk, irrespective of whether they are a family or single person, what has put them at risk, or if they have a local connection to the area.

Local authorities will work with people at risk of losing their homes to develop personalised housing plans, tailored to focus on the needs and circumstances of the household.

The Act will also place a duty on local authorities to help all eligible people at risk of homelessness, 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness, and to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation. Acting earlier and for a broader range of people means more people will get the help they need before they face a homelessness crisis.

The Homelessness Reduction Act has received praise from leading homelessness charities. The Chief Executive of Crisis has described the Act as “a crucial step forward in fighting homelessness.” And Shelter has described the Act as “one of the biggest changes to homeless legislation for 15 years.”

In guidance published in February, the Government confirmed that for the first time prisons, probation services, Jobcentres and NHS Trusts will have a duty to help those at risk of becoming homeless and refer them to a housing authority.

Councils will be required to ensure the advice and information they provide is tailored to meet at risk groups such as care leavers, those leaving prison or the armed services, survivors of domestic abuse and those suffering from a mental illness.

The Government has announced £73 million in funding to help councils to deliver their new responsibilities in respect of the Homeless Reduction Act. Overall, £1.2 billion has been allocated in funding by the Government for tackling homelessness through to 2020, which includes money and a dedicated focus across government departments to tackle rough sleeping. Nobody should be without a roof over their head in one of the world’s strongest economies and eliminating rough sleeping and tackling homelessness, through an integrated approach, are key priorities for the Government.