Today (Friday 28/10) Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham is in parliament for the 2nd reading of the Homelessness Bill. The central parts of the Homelessness Reduction Bill would strengthen the duties local councils have to people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. The main part of the Bill legislates for:
- A more stringent duty for local authorities to assess an applicant’s case if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness.
- A new strengthened prevention duty which requires councils to help to ensure that suitable accommodation does not cease to be available for applicants who are threatened with homelessness and eligible for assistance;
- A new assistance duty which requires local authorities to help to secure accommodation for all applicants who the authority is satisfied are homeless and eligible for assistance, even if they are not in a ‘priority need’ group.
Out of 326 local authorities in England Barking and Dagenham has the 5th highest collective issue with recorded homelessness related problems, and has the highest in London. Havering is in the lower section of the table. However, it is interesting to look at the difference between the statistics from 2010 against the data for 2015/16. In Barking and Dagenham homelessness has nearly quadrupled in the space of 5/6 years under a tory led government. In Havering the impact of the last few years has seen homelessness related issues treble. The statistics can be seen below.
Barking and Dagenham
- Number of ‘statutory homeless’ cases: 232
- Number of rough sleepers: 2
- Number of ‘statutory homeless’ cases: 941
- Number of ‘prevention and relief’ cases: 3,574
- Number of rough sleepers: 20
- Number of ‘statutory homeless’ cases: 128
- Number of rough sleepers: 4
- Number of ‘statutory homeless’ cases: 398
- Number of ‘prevention and relief’ cases: 226
- Number of rough sleepers: 10
Statutory homelessness acceptances for 2015/16 (households accepted as eligible for help, unintentionally homeless and in a ‘priority need’ group, so owed a main homelessness duty);
Number of prevention and relief cases for 2015/16 (households where a local authority acted to either prevent homelessness from occurring, or to relieve it even though they had no statutory obligation to do so);
Rough sleeping by local authority for 2015 (the number of people counted or estimated as sleeping rough – on streets, park benches etc.) on one night.
Whilst it is important to note that 3,574 people faced with homelessness were supported by the local authority, either through preventing evictions or by relieving homelessness where there was no obligation to do so; Jon Cruddas has argued that we shouldn’t have over 3,000 people in situations where they are facing homelessness to begin with. Barking and Dagenham remains one of the biggest builders of housing in the country, yet the level of homelessness continues to rise.
Jon Cruddas MP commented: “The report alongside this bill is a damning insight into what five years in a tory led government does to vulnerable communities across the country. I’m in full support of the Homelessness Reduction Bill. The bill will give local authorities more responsibility and power, helping to combat homelessness when it presents. This is something that will be crucial in areas with high rates of homelessness such as Barking and Dagenham.
“In the long term we need to look at the underlying issues that have led to such a steep rise in homelessness, which I think will include government restrictions on what type of housing councils can build, and the knock-on-effect of Right-to-Buy. This bill is a step in the right direction.”