Currently making its way through parliament, the Homelessness Reduction Bill is a private member’s bill which would make provisions for councils to help find secure accommodation for people at risk of losing their homes.
Proposed by Conservative backbencher Bob Blackman, the bill requires local authorities to provide assistance for anybody who is 56 days away from losing their home – rather than the current figure of 28 days.
The bill has already passed through the House of Commons without a vote because no MPs indicated they would oppose it and has now been backed by peers in a second reading at the House of Lords on 24th February.
As it passed through, peers used the debate as an opportunity to place a spotlight on the national homelessness crisis.
For the sixth year running, rough sleeping statistics have risen – with the number of people living on the streets doubling since 2010.
Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Olly Grender questioned whether the estimate of £61million funding needed to provide the accommodation and service outlined in the bill was accurate.
“I worry about which estimates they are using. I worry that the DCLG is underestimating the problem, and I can see no evidence to argue against that. When London Councils argues that the £61m will not go very far and Lewisham estimates that the additional burdens will cost it £2.4m, I sincerely hope that we are listening,” she said.
Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister John Healey, said, “If the Government is serious about this bill and if ministers mean what they say about homelessness, then they must do two things – fund the costs of the extra duties in this bill in full, and tackle the causes of the growing homelessness crisis in this country.”
Concerns were also raised over the cap on Local Housing Allowance and the impact it will have on the availability of private rented accommodation for poorer families.
The bill must now pass through the House of Lords’ Committee and Report stages before it is granted Royal Assent.
You can follow the bill’s progress on the Parliament website.