By Scott Francis.
THE HOMELESSNESS Reduction Bill has received widespread support from both local Yorkshire and international charities as well as Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn.
When the bill is passed in parliament it will place a duty on councils to provide accommodation for people with a local connection or those with nowhere safe to stay for 56 days.
Mark McGreevy, CEO of Depaul International said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea, I feel sorry for the council officers who have to implement it with the resources which aren’t coming alongside the bill.
“It needs to come with resources to allow housing officers to house people.”
According to Homeless link in 2016 alone there was an eight per cent increase in people sleeping rough in Yorkshire & the Humber from 160 in 2015 to 172 in 2016 and the proposed bill is attempting to tackle the crisis.
Gordon Laing, general manager of charity Simon on the Streets said: “The Homeless Reduction Bill is a positive indication that the issue of homelessness throughout the country has been recognised at governmental level.
“The current system of councils prioritising people seeking accommodation has resulted in those not fitting into the highest priorities – generally single men and women – finding themselves homeless with nowhere to turn for help.
“Clearly, it may have a short term impact on the issue of homelessness in Yorkshire but to find a permanent solution, the funding must be sustainable and the root causes of the issue recognised and addressed in a similar manner.”
The bill also requires public services such as the police to notify local authorities if they come into contact with someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Hilary Benn, Leeds Central Labour MP since 1999, said he support the bill and believes it will have a positive effect but feels more can still be done.
The former shadow foreign secretary said: “Homelessness has been rising, so any funding is welcome but it’s not enough.
“A Labour government would increase housebuilding, lift the borrowing cap on council housebuilding and improve the rights of private renters.”
What are the aims of the Homelessness Reduction Bill?
The private members bill was put forward by Conservative Harrow East MP, Bob Blackman and has received the support of the government.
Bob Blackman in a government press release said: “I welcome the government’s decision to support my bill to reduce homelessness.
“Throughout my 24 years in local government prior to becoming an MP, I saw the devastation that can be caused by homelessness first hand, with too many people simply slipping through the net under the current arrangements.
“By backing this bill, the government is demonstrating its commitment to an agenda of social justice and also shows that it is willing to listen.
“I look forward to working with ministers going forward in order to bring about this important change in legislation.”
The focus of the bill is to put a duty of care on local authorities to tackle the increasing issue of homelessness by amending the Housing Act of 1996.
Key points of the Homelessness Reduction Bill include:
- An extension of the period during which an authority should treat someone as threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days.
- A new duty to prevent homelessness for all eligible applicants threatened with homelessness.
- A new duty to relieve homelessness for all eligible homeless applicants.
- A new duty on public services to notify a local authority if they come into contact with someone they think may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
Other government initiatives are in place to reduce homelessness including protecting homelessness prevention funding for local authorities which they expect to reach by £315 million 2020.
Also, over the course of this parliament £139 million has been given to funding homelessness programmes.
For a more detailed overview of the Homelessness reduction bill visit: https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2016-2017/0096/17096.pdf
Depaul International’s work in Yorkshire
Depaul International is a charity which focuses on reducing homelessness across six countries which are the UK, France, USA, Ireland, Slovakia and Ukraine.
The charity was first set up in 1989 in to tackle the issue of rising homeless in London and expanded across the world.
The Passage day care centre was where the charity first began 27 years ago and now they are led by CEO Mark Mcgreevy, OBE.
Depaul’s vision is to ensure everyone has a place to call home and aim to eventually end homelessness.
Their work also takes place locally in Yorkshire, specifically in South Yorkshire.
Depaul Sheffield works with vulnerable young people by offering housing support and them resettling them into a permanent home.
Also, young people are given the chance to develop the skills needed to succeed in their new home and community.
Depaul offer help in developing skills such as financial capability, training and education, keeping safe and managing their accommodation.
Safe properties are provided for young people by Depaul in partnership with Sheffield City Council.
Safe@last, a scheme by Depaul, works with children who are under 16 who are at risk due to running away from home.
The scheme aims to reduce a child’s risk in a variety of ways including:
- Education and Prevention Project – going into schools and educating children about the dangers of running away and telling them where support is available if they feel that running away is their only option.
- One-to-one work – talking to young people and giving them a chance to talk to someone about why they ran away and work with the child to ensure they understand the risks.
- Helpline – providing young people with a person to call, text or talk to online and giving them support and someone to talk to.
- Family support – supporting families of young people who have run away or have been missing and attempting to improve family relationships.
If you would like more information about Depaul International or would like to donate visit: uk.depaulcharity.org