COMMONS

Minister questioned on Homelessness Reduction Act

27 November 2017

The Communities and Local Government Committee examines the guidance issued to local authorities ahead of the Homelessness Reduction Act coming in to force in April. The Committee questions the Local Government Minister along with representatives from local authorities and homelessness charities Crisis and Shelter.

Draft Homelessness Code of Guidance

The Government consultation on the draft Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities runs until 11 December and includes guidance to councils on a wide range of issues including the duty to refer those at risk of losing their home to housing authorities, an applicant's right to review of a housing authority decision and notices to applicants who deliberately refuse to cooperate.

The Minister is likely to face questions on the timescale and funding for local authorities to implement the Act and what else the Government is doing to reduce homelessness.

The Act was introduced by Committee member Bob Blackman and received Royal Assent in April. Its measures include:

  •  An extension of the period during which an authority should treat someone as threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days.
  • Clarification of the action an authority should take when someone applies for assistance having been served with a section 21 notice of intention to seek possession from an assured shorthold tenancy.
  • 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.

Improving support and assistance

The previous Communities and Local Government Committee in the 2015-17 Parliament carried out pre-legislative scrutiny on the Homelessness Reduction Private Members' Bill. This scrutiny followed the Committee's report on Homelessness (August 2016), which called for improved support and assistance for homeless people.

The Public Accounts Committee is holding a session on Monday on the National Audit Office's report on homelessness published in September.

The Committee will take evidence from councils and the Local Government Ombudsman on progress combating homelessness and will hear from the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department of Work and Pensions.

Witnesses

Monday 27 November, Thatcher room, Portcullis House

At 4.00pm

Panel 1 (Charities)

  • Matt Downie, Director of Policy and External Affairs, Crisis
  • Deborah Garvie, Policy Manager, Shelter

At 4.30pm

Panel 2 (Local Authorities)

At 5.00pm

Panel 3

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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