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Help us take the Homelessness Reduction Bill to the next stage

Blog posted by: Louise Weaver, tuesday, 30 August 2016.

Supported by the cross-party members of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, the Homelessness Reduction Bill is set to be debated in Parliament on 28th October.

The Bill represents a very important opportunity to reform homelessness legislation in England and, along with the Committee’s report on homelessness, has prompted a very real sense of optimism and heighted urgency across the sector. But for it to succeed, we need your help.

As those of us familiar with the sector will know, many homeless people are not considered a ‘priority’ under the law, meaning that they are often turned away with little or no help when they approach their local authority. The Homelessness Reduction Bill aims to change this. It will make sure that councils have a duty to prevent and relieve homelessness regardless of priority need, extend the time that households are considered at risk of homelessness from 28 to 56 days, and require emergency accommodation for people with nowhere safe to stay.

As part of an expert panel responsible for the work underpinning the Bill, we are keen to see this draft legislation become law.

So how can you help?

1. Write to your MP

The challenge we face is that if fewer than 100 MPs attend the debate on 28 October, it will be possible for just one opponent to “talk the bill out”. This means that it could be scrapped without even going to a vote. Even more difficult is that the debate is on a Friday, when many MPs would normally be working in their constituencies.

You can help by writing to the MPs in the areas where you deliver your services to ask them to attend the debate. You might like to use the template email attached below as a starting point. In the letter, you can explain why homelessness reduction matters to your organisation and, from your experience, the impact that changing the law could have. Highlighting how the Bill could help homeless people in the areas they represent will make MPs far more likely to agree to attend.

Crisis is coordinating this effort, so please contact Steve Lee at Crisis to let him know if you plan to write to your local MP(s) and update him on any responses, positive or negative.

2. Submit evidence to the inquiry into the Homelessness Reduction Bill

You can also help by submitting evidence to the Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s pre-legislative inquiry into the Homelessness Reduction Bill. It is inviting views on the Bill and, in particular, is asking for written evidence on

  • The Bill's anticipated impact on levels of homelessness
  • The provisions for homeless people not judged to be in priority need
  • The benefits of prevention activity as a statutory duty
  • The resource implications for local authorities and options for addressing this
  • The potential for increased preventative practice and innovation amongst other public agencies
  • Other measures that should be included in the Bill

The deadline for submissions is Friday 2nd September.

You can submit written evidence directly here, or contact Paul Anderson if you’d like to discuss this further.

Between us, we hope to help take this vital bill a step closer to reality.

Template letter to MPs

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