International guest speaker Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick leads historic step forward for England’s homeless31 May 2017
English charities have hailed the passing of a Homelessness Reduction Bill, which became an act of parliament after it gained royal assent on 27 April 2017. It places a legal duty on councils to give people meaningful support to try to resolve their homelessness, as well as introducing measures to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place. The government will be providing £61 million to local authorities to help meet the costs of providing extra help and advice to homeless people, and people are risk of losing their home.
Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick chaired the independent review panel, which gave the recommendations that formed the foundations for the new Act. Professor Fitzpatrick has stated two key problems highlighted by the review panel: The distinction between ‘priority’ and ‘non priority’ groups embedded in the 1977 Act meant that most single homeless people were entitled to only advice and assistance; and The growing emphasis since 2003 on informal ‘housing options’ interventions by local authorities sat uncomfortably alongside the formal statutory framework, raising concerns about unlawful ‘gatekeeping’ in some areas.
The new Act should enable local authorities to intervene earlier to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place, and give them increased flexibility in the solutions they can offer to those already in housing crisis, making the most of the resources they do have to help people facing poverty avoid the devastation of becoming homeless too. Read Professor Fitzpatrick’s blog article at and more at The Big Issue.