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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Homelessness Reduction Bill welcomed but 'not a cure-all for rough sleeping'

Written by Alexander Britton

A new law requiring councils to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness is due to be introduced, but one charity is warning it should not be considered a "cure-all".

The Homelessness Reduction Bill aims to stem the "rising tide" of people living on the streets by giving councils a legal duty to provide meaningful support to resolve housing issues.

The Bill, introduced by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, requires local authorities to provide new homelessness services to all those affected, not just those protected under existing legislation.

Charities including Centrepoint, Crisis and Shelter are calling on political parties to pledge to stop rough sleeping in their manifestos ahead of the election in June.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: "The Act is a crucial step forward in fighting homelessness.

"For 40 years we've had a system that fails too many homeless people by turning them away from help when they need it most.

"But this Act is by no means a cure-all and, at a time when the number of people sleeping on our streets continues to rise at an alarming rate, we are calling on all political parties to commit to ending rough sleeping in their upcoming manifestos."

Claire McMenemy, who slept rough for more than 30 years and was helped by St Mungo's, said: "It's great that the law is being changed to help people who are facing homelessness.

"It should be a top priority."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Yui Mok / PA Wire.