Our response covers several key recommendations, including that the Government must tackle the root causes of homelessness – lack of supply, welfare, and support.
The Homelessness Reduction Act is the most ambitious reform to homelessness legislation in decades and is key to the Governments ambitions to reduce homelessness and halve rough sleeping by 2022.
In this call for evidence, the Government sought views on:
- The impact the Act has had and the outcomes that are being achieved.
- How has the Act changed the approach of local housing authorities and their partners to tackling homelessness and supporting those in need.
- The experience of people approaching their local housing authority for help.
- How the implementation of the Act has been resourced, including the level of new burdens funding to assist this.
- What elements of the Act and processes are working well, and which might need adjustment.
There are positive outcomes since the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act, including better access to information for tenants, prevention of evictions and stronger working relationships for local partners.
Our key recommendations are:
- The Act would be much more impactful if it were properly resourced with a level of burdens funding that meets the needs of the caseloads experienced by local authorities across the country.
- The sector would like to see a single referral form used across local authorities.
- The Act should focus on supporting those with the most complex needs or in immediate risk of rough sleeping.
- The Government should carry out a review of the duty to refer, this may lead to additional public authorities being included in the duty and potentially result in a new duty to co-operate, to improve collaboration between partners.
- More broadly, the Government must tackle the root causes of homelessness – lack of supply, welfare, and support. Next year’s spending review is a key opportunity to do this.
- Housing associations need £12.8bn a year to build 145,000 affordable and social rented homes a year for 10 years. We need a welfare system that covers the cost - local housing allowance should be restored to the 30th percentile, the benefit cap should be reformed, and Government should end the five-week wait in Universal Credit.
We have developed this response with members of the Federation’s National Homelessness Steering Group. This response is based on our members’ experiences of the Act, both in providing services and accommodation to homeless households, operating the voluntary Commitment to Refer and their wider work to prevent homelessness.