Briefing: Localism Bill 2nd Reading

By: James Bevan  Published: January 2011


The Localism Bill will result in wide ranging changes to housing and planning, which represent a fundamental shift in policy to a more localised system. A large number of these proposals are welcome yet Shelter has a number of key concerns regarding some proposed measures.

Summary

At a time when the housing safety net is needed more than ever, these reforms critically damage it by:

  • undermining the legal duty towards homeless people
  • removing security in social housing (reducing incentives to work).
Shelter wants to see these proposals removed from the Bill entirely.

However, the Bill could provide a vital opportunity to deliver much needed reforms by adding clauses, which would:

  • increase protection for tenants in the private rented sector (PRS), through:
    - tightening up tenancy deposit legislation (undermined by a recent court ruling)
    - the introduction of PRS accreditation schemes setting out the minimum standards for landlord compliance
  • give courts greater flexibility over eviction orders.

The Bill could also be improved by helping to enable local people to fully engage in planning decisions and hold their local authority to account, via the introduction of:

  • consistent methodologies for the assessment and presentation of housing need across local authorities
  • a duty on local authorities to say how they would address this need in their ‘Local Plans’.

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