Councils could face new duty to prevent homelessness

posted on 29 November 2016, updated on 29 November 2016

As rents rise and benefits fall, more people face losing their home. A Bill aims to stop people from becoming homeless by giving English councils specific duties to help everyone at an earlier stage.

Forthcoming legislation is likely to require councils in England to do more to prevent homelessness. The Homelessness Reduction Bill, proposed by backbench Conservative MP Bob Blackman and supported by the government, received a second reading in late October.

Under the Bill’s provisions to reduce homelessness, local authorities will have to help anyone who is at risk of becoming homeless within the next 56 days, instead of 28 days as at present. All applicants will be assessed and given a personal housing plan, which will include their current circumstances, desired outcome and steps to be taken by both themselves and the authority.

If the Bill becomes law, local authorities in England will be in a similar position to those in Wales, where councils have had to help households who are at risk of being homeless in the next 56 days since 2015. Having initially expressed reservations, the Local Government Association is backing the Bill – as long as its provisions are funded properly.

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