Local MP backs new cross-party homelessness legislation, but says government must do more to tackle the causes of rising homelessness

homlessnessThe Homelessness Reduction Bill was passed in the House of Commons on Friday 28 October, it aims to bring down high levels of homelessness by placing stronger duties on councils to help people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness at an earlier stage. Labour supported the Bill and is pleased that the Government listened to them and agreed the new rules will be fully funded.

Although homelessness is a devolved matter, local MP, Mark Tami, is backing the new cross-party legislation that aims to reduce rising homelessness

Mark Tami said; “The situation in England is spiralling out of control. The Labour Government from 1997-2010, managed to reduce rough sleeping by 75% and reduce statutory homelessness by nearly two-thirds. 

“I have spoken to the relevant Minister in Wales, who happens to be local AM Carl Sargeant, regarding the issue and I am pleased that significant inroads have already been made to tackle the issue in Wales. 

“The analysis that Labour produced goes a long way to explaining the scandalous reality that homelessness has doubled with Conservative Ministers in charge. 

“Labour backed the cross-party Homelessness Reduction and ministers must now act to tackle the root causes of rising homelessness – build more affordable housing, act on private renting and re-think the crude cuts to housing benefit for the most vulnerable.”

Carl Sargeant the Cabinet Secretary for Children and Communities said

Tackling Homelessness is one of my priorities, and the lack of a job or bank account should not be a barrier to finding accommodation. Homeless legislation has changed significantly in Wales since April 2015 as a result of the Wales Housing Act 2014. 

“This fundamental reform of homeless legislation ensures that everyone, regardless of whether they are homeless or threatened with homelessness, receives the necessary support from their local authority to either sustain their tenancy or to find alternative accommodation. 

“I have been pleased to see Local authorities working in partnership with the person themselves to ensure that any interim housing that is sourced can become sustainable.”

Labour has warned that homelessness will not be significantly reduced unless the causes of rising homelessness in the last six years are addressed. The Party has released an analysis showing how Conservative cuts and decisions since 2010 have led directly to higher homelessness:

  • Cuts to housing benefit support worth over £5bn since 2010 – thirteen separate cuts to housing benefit over the last five years, including the bedroom tax and breaking the link between housing benefit for private renters (local housing allowance) and private rents;
  • Cuts to ‘supporting people’ which funds homelessness services – the National Audit Office have revealed that this vital funding fell by 45% between 2010 and 2015;
  • Soaring private rents – averaging more than £2000 extra each year than at the same point 2010; and
  • The loss of affordable homes – with over 140,000 fewer council homes than in 2010, and the number of new government funded homes for started for social rent falling from nearly 40,000 in 2009/10 to less than 1,000 last year.