The Private Members Homeless Reduction Bill, that will be debated tomorrow, will improve the situation of many homeless people in this country. The Bill will force councils to demonstrate that they are preventing and tackling homeless through a number of new provisions and measures. However, Jack Dromey will argue that the Government needs to invest in social and affordable housing to allow councils like Birmingham to house the homeless.
Homelessness is currently tackled in a 2 tiered prevention system. One tier is “priority need” where Local Authorities have an obligation to house homeless people, whilst those in the lower tier are judged not to be priority and can be turned away with minimal or no assistance. The Communities and Local Government (CLG) Select Committee found single people in particular, find it challenging to get the support in doing something about their homelessness status. As a result since 2010 statutory homelessness in England has grown. In 2014/15 homelessness acceptances by local authorities were 36% higher than in 2009/10. This has given rise to calls that reform is needed to tackle this increase in numbers.
Labour MP Jack Dromey, who has long campaigned for decent affordable housing for everyone, supports the Bill but calls on Theresa May to help Birmingham City Council in providing assistance and capacity to offer more social and supported housing. As of August this year Birmingham had 223 single households in temporary accommodation. If today's Bill becomes law, the Government will need to take responsibility for the significant pressure on Birmingham's housing services, as the council will have to under the terms of the Bill accommodate many more people whilst at the same deal with cuts to its budget.
Jack Dromey, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington and former Shadow Housing Minister, said:
“The Labour Government in Wales have introduced reforms to tackle homelessness for everyone and it is time that the Government followed their lead.
Whilst I back the intentions of the Bill, the Tories need to recognise the increased costs for councils in housing more homeless people. Local Councils are already facing huge budget cuts and this will add to the funding crisis, especially for areas with high homelessness such as Birmingham.
The Labour Party and I will use this debate to urge and encourage the Government to support the Bill but also to address the lack of provision of affordable housing in Birmingham and Britain. Warm words from ministers are not enough. They must invest in affordable and social housing to end the scandal of homelessness in 21st Century Britain.”