In 2017, the government passed a new Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into effect in April 2018.[1] This act was welcomed by charities such as Homeless Link, Crisis, and Shelter as a step towards the elimination of UK homelessness. The key changes introduced by the new legislation include:

  • Improvements in the quality of advice and information appertaining to homelessness
  • Prolongation of the period during which an individual is defined as being “threatened with homelessness”
  • An increase in the responsibility taken by local housing authorities with regard to tackling homelessness in their area
  • The provision of personalised housing plans outlining the measures to be taken by individuals and housing authorities in order to secure accommodation
  • The levelling of responsibility upon all public bodies, requiring them to refer those at risk of homelessness to housing authorities[2]

For further information on legislative changes relating to homelessness, please see: https://www.crisis.org.uk/media/238825/crisis_hra_guidance_1pp.pdf 

The leading UK homelessness charities expressed positive reactions to the introduction of this act, as compliance with the appointed measures is calculated to emphasise homelessness prevention and to introduce “a more person-centred approach” to the support of vulnerable people.[3]

The government also announced measures as part of their strategy to eliminate rough sleeping, with the aim of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eradicating it entirely by 2027. The steps undertaken thus far include the formation of a new Rough Sleeping Team, a £30 million 2018-19 fund for local authorities with large numbers of rough sleepers, and the provision of £100,000 of funding to support frontline Rough Sleeping workers.[4]

On the 23rd of December 2019 the Prime Minister declared that £260 million would be set aside for local homelessness services, of which 300 councils across the country would receive a share with which to support the homeless in their area.[5] Reducing rough sleeping has become a cross-departmental priority for the government. This governmental prioritisation has been facilitated by the advocacy work of homelessness charities.

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[1] Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, GOV.UK, <Homelessness Reduction Act 2017>

[2] Overview of homelessness law and guidance, Shelter, <https://england.shelter.org.uk/legal/homelessness_applications/introduction_to_homelessness>

[3] Louise Weaver, ‘Homelessness Reduction Act should change ‘familiar story’ of homelessness data’, Homeless Link, 27 June 2018 <https://www.homeless.org.uk/connect/news/2018/jun/27/homelessness-reduction-act-should-change-familiar-story-of-homelessness>

[4]  ‘New government initiative to reduce rough sleeping’, GOV.UK, 30 March 2018, <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-government-initiative-to-reduce-rough-sleeping>

[5] ‘Prime minister pledges new action to eliminate homelessness and rough sleeping’, GOV.UK, 23 December 2019 <https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-pledges-new-action-to-eliminate-homelessness-and-rough-sleeping>