October 10th is World Homelessness Day and the statistics for homelessness in the UK are on the rise. John Healey, the Labour MP and former Shadow Housing Minister, says that 80,000 families will be on the verge of homelessness every year if Theresa May does not reverse cuts to housing benefit and support for those already homeless.
John Healey has published analysis which shows cuts to housing benefit, local authority support and a loss of 143,000 of council houses would result thousands more people becoming homeless. The number of people classed as homeless has risen by 6.3 per cent every year since 2010 and, if the rate is maintained, this would result in 80,000 homeless families by 2020 – including 60,000 families with children.
The number of people sleeping on England’s streets has doubled since 2010.
“The Conservatives’ record on housing is six years of failure, and in no area is this more painfully clear than homelessness,” Mr Healey said, “We should all be ashamed that in one of the richest countries in the world there has been such a huge increase in the number of people who are homeless over the last six years.”
Meanwhile the National Landlords Association (NLA) welcomed the Homelessness Reduction Bill, published in September by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee.
The Bill, tabled by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, includes measures to amend the Housing Act 1996 to expand councils’ duties to reduce homelessness by providing that eviction notices are proof that an applicant is threatened with homelessness and doubling the definition of ‘threatened with homelessness’ from 28 to 56 days.
The Communities and Local Government Select Committee will now undertake a prelegislative inquiry to examine whether the Bill will achieve its aims of reducing levels of homelessness.
Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), said,
“When faced with eviction, many tenants are advised by councils to remain in a property until forcibly evicted by bailiffs, thus making them homeless and eligible for social housing.
“The NLA has consistently warned that putting vulnerable households in this position puts an unnecessary strain on tenants, landlords, and the Courts Service.
“By ensuring that councils accept eviction notices as evidence of homelessness, this Bill will take the strain off of overstretched courts, ensure that tenants are properly supported by their local councils, and provide landlords with the confidence they need to let their property out to more vulnerable tenants.”