MPs back new law that forces councils to stop people becoming homeless

The Homelessness Reduction Bill’s Second Reading passed without a vote

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Friday 28 October 2016 15:48
The bill requires local authorities to help anyone 56 days away from homelessness secure accommodation
The bill requires local authorities to help anyone 56 days away from homelessness secure accommodation

A plan to force councils to give more help to people at risk of becoming homeless before they lose their home has passed a key step towards becoming law.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill, proposed by Conservative backbencher Bob Blackman, would require local authorities to help anyone 56 days away from homelessness secure accommodation. Currently the figure is 28 days.

The private member’s bill passed its second reading on Friday without a vote because no MPs indicated that they would vote against it.

Earlier this month the Government announced it would back the private member’s bill following some changes after consultations with councils.

Though the bill enjoyed cross-party support, MPs said the Government had to provide the resources to councils to ensure it would work as planned.

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.

“Those will be the two tests that we on this side hold the Government hard to account.”

Conservative MP Mark Prisk added that the Government had to “play its part” and provide “additional funding for many councils in order for them to fulfil [the new] commitment”.

Some MPs spoke critically of the bill despite not voting against it, however. Labour centrist Mike Gapes said the proposed law was wishful thinking and “gesture politics” because it did not provide extra homes.

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