In April 2017, the government passed a new Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into effect in April 2018. This act has been welcomed by charities such as Homeless Link, Crisis and Shelter as a potential positive step towards tackling homelessness. Some of the key changes include:

  • Improved advice and information about homelessness
  • Extension of the period when an individual is described as ‘threatened with homelessness’
  • Increased local housing authorities’ responsibility for tackling homelessness
  • Personalised housing plans, outlining what individuals and housing authorities will do to secure accommodation
  • Making all public bodies responsible for referring those at risk of homelessness to housing authorities

More information on key changes of homelessness law, in summary: https://www.crisis.org.uk/media/238825/crisis_hra_guidance_1pp.pdf

Whilst these charities are very positive about the Act, as it introduces an emphasis on homelessness prevention and takes ‘a more person-centred approach’ to support vulnerable people[1], they call on the government to provide housing authorities enough funding to implement it and to ensure that enough affordable housing is being built.

The government has also announced a new set of measures as part of a rough sleeping strategy, with the aim of halving rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminating it completely by 2027. These measures include a new Rough Sleeping Team, a £30 million fund for 2018 to 2019 for local authorities with large numbers of rough sleepers, and £100,000 of funding to support frontline Rough Sleeping workers[2]. Reducing rough sleeping has become a cross-departmental priority for the government, partly thanks to the advocacy work of homelessness charities.

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[1] Homeless Link, Jun 2018. Homelessness Reduction Act should change ‘familiar story’ of homelessness data. [Online] Available at: https://www.homeless.org.uk/connect/news/2018/jun/27/homelessness-reduction-act-should-change-familiar-story-of-homelessness

Shelter, Apr 2018. Briefing: Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. [Online] Available at: http://england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources/policy_and_research/policy_library/policy_library_folder/briefing_homelessness_reduction_act_2017

[2] GOV.UK, Mar 2018. New government initiative to reduce rough sleeping. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-government-initiative-to-reduce-rough-sleeping