Briefing: Homelessness Reduction Act 2017

By: Deborah Garvie  Published: April 2018


From 3 April 2018, there will need to be a major change in the way local housing authorities respond to homeless people. So being aware of this change is very important for those who advise and support homeless households.

Summary

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 is one of the biggest changes to the rights of homeless people in England for 15 years. It effectively bolts two new duties to the original statutory rehousing duty:

  • Duty to prevent homelessness
  • Duty to relieve homelessness

Shelter supports the legislation because it extends entitlements to help, places a renewed focus on the prevention of homelessness and local joint working, and has the potential to provide more client-focussed, personalised statutory homelessness services.

But its laudable aims to reduce homelessness will be undermined without improvements to wider housing and welfare policy, to address both the causes of homelessness and to ensure that homeless households have access to settled, affordable and suitable housing in each local authority area.

Without these improvements, there could be unintended consequences, such as 'gate-keeping' of services, unlawful decisions, increased out-of-area moves and repeat homelessness, with damaging consequences for children and other vulnerable applicants, and little improvement in meaningful outcomes for single adults.

This briefing is aimed at local housing authorities, local councillors with housing responsibilities and those who advise and support people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

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