Private Member’s Bill case study

The Homelessness Reduction Act,  started off as a private member’s bill. It was introduced by Bob Blackman MP Conservative Member of Parliament for Harrow East and received Royal Assent on April 27, 2017. The Act amended the Housing Act  of 1996. The Act eventually led to creating major reform in homelessness legislation in England.

Under the original clauses of the private member’s bill, councils in England would be legally obliged to provide free advice and support for anyone at risk of homelessness, regardless of whether they are deemed to be in “priority need” under existing laws.

The private member’s bill  received cross-party support, including the backing of the shadow bench of the Labour Party.

The bill later received its second reading with at least 100 MPs present in Parliament to ensure its passage.

At the time local authorities warned that without extra investment in tackling the underlying causes of housing insecurity the bill would not on its own solve the problem of rising homelessness.

Crucially the bill also received Government support with the then communities secretary, Sajid Javid, stating: “No one should have to sleep rough on the streets. We want to build a country that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. That’s why we are determined to do all we can to help those who lose their homes and provide them with the support they need to get their lives back on track.”

Blackman, a former leader of Brent council in London, said at the time “I welcome the government’s decision to support my bill to reduce homelessness. Throughout my 24 years in local government prior to becoming an MP, I saw the devastation that can be caused by homelessness first hand, with too many people simply slipping through the net under the current arrangements.”

Here are the Acts key provisions:

Placing new duties on local authorities to prevent and relieve homelessness for all eligible applicants.

Extending the period during which an applicant is considered threatened with homelessness from 28 to 56 days.

Introducing a duty on public bodies to refer people at risk of homelessness to local authority housing teams.

Providing for homelessness prevention services for all eligible applicants, not just those who are considered to be in priority need.

Overall, the Homelessness Reduction Act aimed to enhance the support available to homeless individuals and those at risk of homelessness, with the goal of reducing homelessness and improving outcomes for vulnerable people across England.