CLG Committee calls for renewed Government homelessness strategy
This was welcome news, as Homeless Link has long been calling for a joined-up approach to homelessness to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are properly supported.
The Committee noted the ‘scale of homelessness’ and examined the factors impacting its growth, laying out a set of recommendations for the Government. Its inquiry heard evidence from Homeless Link’s Head of Policy, Helen Mathie and Director of the Making Every Adult Matter coalition, Oliver Hilbery, among others.
"The scale of homelessness is now such that a renewed Government strategy is a must. It needs to not only help those who are homeless but also prevent those…who are at risk of becoming homeless from joining them."
Clive Betts MP, CLG Committee Chair
Commendably, the inquiry ‘tried to look beyond the headline figures’ to understand the human cost, and how the system currently fails many people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The policy analysis in the report is complemented by stories of people’s actual lived experiences.
We strongly welcome many of the Committee’s recommendations, some of the key ones being:
- The development of homes for affordable rent to meet local need
- The immediate removal of Local Housing Allowance caps from supported housing
- Increased tenant choice around whether housing benefits are paid directly to landlords
- Greater flexibility in the way individuals with multiple and complex needs can receive help
The Committee is also championing more effective legislation, and is sponsoring the Homelessness Reduction Bill. Presented by Bob Blackman MP, the Bill is intended to prevent people becoming homeless by putting in new legal protections for people at risk of homelessness within the next 56 days. This approach reflects the changes made in Wales in their Housing Act in 2014. The Bill would also obligate councils to provide some form of accommodation for people with nowhere ‘safe to stay’.
The recommendations are dependent upon the local authorities playing a pivotal role in delivering reductions in homelessness, and it is encouraging that the Committee emphasises this will only be possible if local authorities are given adequate resources by Central Government.
While the report has generally been well received by organisations from across the sector, several reservations or areas for improvement were voiced. From our perspective, there are one or two aspects of the findings we would question (and which we think may be based largely on misunderstandings). The Committee’s position on Housing First risks undermining great work taking place in that field; their statements about the future funding of supported housing we found slightly confusing.
That said, the report is a comprehensive document, supported across the political aisle, and is a welcome step forward. Homeless Link and our members are keen to assist the Government in the delivery of the Committee’s key recommendations and hope it will act urgently to put the necessary leadership and resources in place to make these a reality. We greatly look forward to hearing the Government’s response.
What you can do
Homelessness agencies will have the opportunity to feed in their views on the Homelessness Reduction Bill before it is debated in the Commons in October. Any Homeless Link members wishing to know more should contact email@example.com.
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Louise is the communications manager at Homeless Link.
0207 840 4427