Leading charities have hailed a ‘crucial step forward in fighting homelessness’, as new laws designed to reduce homelessness in England are granted royal assent.
Conservative MP Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill has become an Act of Parliament, giving councils a legal duty to support homelessness people and requiring them to introduce measures to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place.
Responding to the announcement, Jon Sparkers, Chief Executive of homeless charity Crisis said: “The Homelessness Reduction Act is a crucial step forward in fighting homelessness.
“For 40 years we’ve had a system that fails too many homeless people by turning them away from help when they need it most. We’d like to thank the peers and MPs from across the political spectrum who came together to back this bill, as well as Government ministers for their leadership.
“But this Act is by no means a cure-all and, at a time when the number of people sleeping on our streets continues to rise at an alarming rate, we are calling on all political parties to commit to ending rough sleeping in their upcoming manifestos.
“The success of the Homelessness Reduction Act shows what can be achieved when the political will exists to tackle the root causes of homelessness. Whoever wins the general election must make ending rough sleeping a top priority once they are elected.”
Claire, a St Mungo’s client with experience of rough sleeping, said: “It’s great that the law is being changed to help people who are facing homelessness. It should be a top priority. I slept rough for over thirty years after running away from home and I know the dangers that people face and how you can get stuck on the streets.
“My mental health suffered a lot and I believe more needs to be done to help people like me who end up sleeping rough. For a long time I felt very alone and since having some proper therapy I am in my own flat thanks to St Mungo’s.”
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, added: “The Homelessness Reduction Bill has received royal assent today and will go a long way to ensuring people at risk of homelessness get the right support from their local authorities before their situation turns to disaster.
“With the General Election in full swing and political parties in the process of developing their manifesto commitments, now is the time where we should be seeing a full commitment from all parties so that young people who find themselves homeless are able to receive the right support to get their lives back on track.”