MPs call for housing strategy to cut homelessness

John Hewitt Jones

August 18, 2016

MPs have called for a Government-wide housing strategy to be launched in a bid to tackle homelessness.

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee concluded in a report that the variable level of support offered to vulnerable people across the country is not acceptable, and that more must be done to reduce the cost and increase the availability of housing.

Many people are badly treated by council staff, and those judged not to be in priority need are often sent away without support, according to the report.

The publication of the report is accompanied by a Private Member’s Bill presented by Bob Blackman. Conservative MP for Harrow East.

The report calls on the Government to identify councils not meeting their duties to help homeless people, and to consider setting a statutory duty for local authorities to provide meaningful support to single homeless people with a local connection.

It explains that a shortage of social housing means many people rely on the private rented sector to avoid or escape homelessness, but often the financial barriers or instability of tenancies are too great.

Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East and chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, said: “No one should be homeless in Britain today but the reality is that more and more people find themselves on the streets, in night shelters or going from sofa to sofa to keep a roof over their heads. They are often driven there by the availability and cost of housing and have been failed by front line support services along the way.

“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 vulnerable families and individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless from joining them. All Departments will need to subscribe to this common approach and contribute to ending homelessness.

“Local authorities also have a big part to play. The Committee recognises they face a significant task with funding pressures and legal obligations, but vulnerable people are too often badly treated, being made to feel like they are at fault, and offered ineffectual and meaningless advice. We want the Government to monitor local authorities and help them achieve best practice.

“The Committee has made a number of recommendations and we plan to follow up many of these issues in a year’s time to see what progress is being made. We also hope that some of the issues can be addressed by our Committee colleague Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill, which the Committee will help take forward following its publication.”

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