22 December 2015
First homelessness inquiry in a decade
Last week the Communities and Local Government Select Committee announced that they would be holding an inquiry into homelessness, something Crisis has been lobbying for to take place. This is a very welcome announcement and one of a number made last week which shone the spotlight on homelessness.
This will be a very timely inquiry – it is the first time in 10 years that the committee have looked at homelessness.
The committee last looked at homelessness in 2005. Their report made a number of key recommendations including:
- A review of priority need categories and a cost-benefit analysis of removing vulnerability criteria
- Stronger guidance and minimum expected standards of help for non-priority need homeless people
- Additional funding for local authority homelessness prevention work.
Why does it matter?
Since the last inquiry, a lot has changed in the homelessness landscape.
- After years of declining trends and since the last inquiry, all forms of homelessness have risen and independent research carried out for Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that homelessness is likely to increase further still.
- Homelessness policy has changed in England, including reforms allowing local councils to discharge homeless households in the private rented sector. The loss of a private rented tenancy is now the leading cause of homelessness.
- The Scottish and Welsh devolved governments now have new legislative frameworks in place with significant difference from the law in England. It is therefore an appropriate time to reconsider the effectiveness of English legislation and scrutinise the actions of councils in England.
All of these are developments that deserve further scrutiny.
This new inquiry is particularly important as the Department for Communities and Local Government (the department which the committee scrutinise the work of) announced last week that the government would consider new legislation to prevent more people from becoming homeless, something Crisis has long campaigned for since the launch of our No One Turned Away campaign. This means that the committee has a real chance to influence the government’s thinking on what needs to be done.
The committee are accepting evidence until 8th February, we at Crisis will be submitting a response laying out our views on how the homelessness legislation could be improved to better support single homeless people. We would encourage anyone with new ideas on ending homelessness to do so as well.