LETTER:Victims of the Housing Bill

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The Independent Online
From Ms Diana Maddock, MP

Sir: Your headline about the forthcoming Housing Bill, "Single parents to lose council house priority", (16 November) is highly misleading.

Single parents do not have, and have never had, priority for council houses. As the law currently stands, they have equal priority with any other household that includes children, a pregnant woman or a disabled or elderly person. This means that if they are evicted or repossessed, they are automatically defined as "vulnerable" by local authorities and therefore prioritised for council housing.

It was the l977 Homeless Persons Act, proposed by the then Liberal MP Stephen Ross, that first gave homeless families with children priority for secure housing tenancies. What the Government is now proposing to do is reverse this by giving local authorities licence to put these families (of all kinds, single and double parent) into insecure, unstable temporary accommodation. As well as being expensive and stressful for families, temporary accommodation has been shown to have a profound impact on children's education.

All homeless families will suffer under the Government's short-sighted proposals. Conservative ministers should not be allowed to get away with claiming that it is only single teenage mothers (who occupy fewer than 0-3 per cent of council properties) who will be hit.

Yours sincerely,

Diana Maddock

MP for Christchurch

and East Dorset (Lib Dem)

House of Commons

London, SW1

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