Every person sleeping rough is a tragedy and I am glad that the Government is working hard to reduce homelessness. Homelessness acceptances are now less than half of what they were during their peak in 2003-04 under the previous Labour Government.
Councils have a duty to provide advice to anyone seeking help and then take steps to prevent homelessness wherever possible. Since 2010, councils have prevented over 1 million households from becoming homeless and the Government is now protecting homelessness prevention funding for councils. This will total £315 million by 2020. It has also increased central funding to tackle homelessness to £139 million over the next four years. This includes targeted funding for rough sleeping.
I have been assured by my ministerial colleagues that the Government is considering a broad range of options, including legislation, to prevent more people from becoming homeless. The report by the Crisis Expert Panel, to which St Mungo’s contributed, has been welcomed by the Government. It provides a valuable insight into how aspects of the current legislation in England can be updated in light of the models adopted in Scotland and Wales.
The Homelessness Reduction Bill, introduced by my colleague Bob Blackman, has not yet been published but I look forward to examining the contents of the Bill in due course.
The reduction of homelessness is a priority issue and if my diary allows I would be delighted to attend the event that Crisis is organising on the 27 October. I look forward to receiving further details in due course.
Thank you if you have taken the time to contact me on this important issue.