Councils need to resume building affordable homes to tackle homelessness

// HA News

A Bill to make provision about measures for reducing homelessness has been submitted to the House of Commons. What part do councils play in tackling the issue?

Responding to government funding announced this for councils to meet the costs associated with the Homelessness Reduction Bill, Lord Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said "Councils want to end homelessness focusing on prevention. We have worked with Bob Blackman MP to shape the Homelessness Reduction Bill into a piece of legislation that is more workable to allow councils to meet the needs of the vulnerable.

"The LGA has called for all new duties on councils proposed in the Bill to be fully funded both now and in the future, and were pleased when the Government committed to this.

"However, councils have concerns that initial costings will inevitably be based on assumptions that are difficult to predict. For example, it is impossible to know how many people will come forward to access the new duties, what the impact of the Bill will be on different groups over time, and therefore the funding councils need to deliver duties that reduce homelessness.

"We ask that the Government commit to reviewing the Bill's impact two years after implementation, to assess its actual impact and to ensure that councils are being fully equipped and funded to deliver the Bill's ambitions.

"But it is clear that legislative change alone will not resolve homelessness. It is crucial that the Government recognise and address the wider factors that are increasing homelessness, such as the lack of affordable housing and welfare reforms. Without this, the Bill will struggle to achieve its aim of reducing homelessness.

"Councils need powers and funding to address the widening gap between incomes and rents, resume their historic role as a major builder of new affordable homes and join up all local services – such as health, justice and skills. This is the only way to deliver our collective ambition to end homelessness."

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