The Homeless Reduction Bill cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons on Friday, having been unanimously approved by MPs at its second reading.
The Bill forces councils in England to take greater measures to prevent vulnerable families and individuals from becoming homeless, as well as expanding their legal duty to help those already on the streets.
David Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate and original co-sponsor of the bill addressed the Commons on Friday, reminding MPs of the “stark reality that the average life expectancy of someone who is street homeless is 47 - someone of my age.”
MPs from both sides of the house emphasised the need for a "culture change in councils", shifting their priorities from "crisis management" to a pro-active effort to prevent homelessness.
Mr Burrowes subsequently turned his attention to Enfield Council, stating that “in my constituency, I have had some examples of really appalling, shoddy practices that dehumanised individuals as they tried to seek help.”
Responding to a submission from the Borough of Enfield claiming the measures were ‘likely to detract from the very effective homelessness prevention that already takes place’, Mr Burrowes accused North London Councils of being “in denial”.
“Outer London Boroughs such as mine can be in denial about the real numbers of homeless people” said Mr Burrowes, “They acquiesce – not least because they are allowed to by legislation – to seeing those at risk of homelessness gravitate to central London hostels. They can effectively sit on their hands whilst others pick up the bill.” The Government must ensure “for the good conscience of our nation” that it “delivers a much more comprehensive preventative duty”, said Mr Burrowes.
“We must get on and back this bill.”
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