The Homelessness Reduction Bill (HRB) has passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons today and will now progress into Committee Stage . It has a way to become law, but its heading that way. See below for Hugo Sugg’s response to the news.“I am pleased with this progress today and would like to congratulate Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East for his vision to change 40 year old homeless legislation that one step closer to being changed.
As much as I support this Bill, I heavily scrutinise it as well. The HRB only looks into the immediate point of walking into your Local Authority and presenting as homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. It has to be recognised that this Bill cannot and won’t solve the bigger issues as to how or why people become homeless.
These issues include relationship breakdowns, job losses, high use of Foodbanks and domestic violence. All of these are part and parcel of human life, and to think differently would be insensitive. This Bill draws little acknowledgement of these situations. Homelessness and housing issues with people goes further than just not having a home or a roof over your head. Extensive research has pointed out that the main homelessness is very rarely just losing a house, but can be more entrenched issues like trauma, loss of trust and family breakdown.
The Bill mentions about an increase on the time that the Local Authority have to assess you – rising to 54 days. This presents a huge issue, and incredibly high expectation for the Council which, unless more resources are guaranteed and provided, will likely make matters worse for both.
Backing Government into a corner to fund and resource this Bill is risky in my eyes, but this is what Mr Blackman has effectively done. The Government and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government have given support to the Bill, however does this mean millions of pounds will be available for emergency accommodation, staff and more social housing?
This Bill makes for better provision for the homeless or threatened with homelessness however if the product at the end is not there (like it tends to be now), we will have even further blockages in an even bigger pipe between acceptances and accommodation, support or help.
The current legislation is a way of filtering out what goes down the pipe, and what gets pushed out – even though that this isn’t the best way of sorting out the homeless (as widely agreed by those in the homeless sector), it is a way of managing resource.
I don’t want to be too negative but instead realistic. The Homelessness Reduction Bill is a step forward to dismantling and recreating the jigsaw that is people’s lives and homelessness. Bob Blackman has taken a brave step to make this change, and although I have highlighted issues in this response – there is still time to iron those out.
I want Hugo’s Earthquake, its staff and supporters to work with Mr Blackman, the APPG on Homelessness, Communities and Local Government Committee, Shelter, St Mungo’s, Crisis and other stakeholders in this Parliamentary work to help create a better life and louder voice for the millions that are homeless in this country and need help.
Thanks to all MP’s who were in the Commons Chamber today and made it one step closer to law – it’s a very big achievement. There’s more to be done, and we will make sure to have a crucial say in the development and implementation of this Bill.”
Hugo Sugg, Founder of Hugo’s Earthquake.