We believe no-one should have to sleep rough
- Stronger advice and information duty
Legislation should more clearly set out the types of housing advice and information local authorities must provide to people before they become homeless or are threatened with homelessness. Services that deliver this should be designed to be able to meet the needs of people who are at particular risk of homelessness through working with local public and voluntary organisations.
- A prevention duty for all eligible households
This new duty should be owed to all eligible households who are threatened with homelessness, regardless of priority need and intentionality. Local authorities would have to demonstrate that they are taking reasonable steps to prevent homelessness. Examples of these steps, including mediation with landlords, support in managing debt or an offer of alternative accommodation would be included in the legislation. Local authorities would also be empowered to intervene much earlier, for example almost as soon as an eviction notice is served. People would be considered as ‘threatened with homelessness’ if they are at risk of losing their accommodation within 56 days, rather than within 28 days, as is currently the case.
- A relief duty for all eligible homeless people who have a local connection
If a local authority is unable to prevent an applicant’s homelessness, they should have a duty to take reasonable steps to help secure accommodation regardless of priority need and intentionality. Local authorities could help to secure accommodation in a number of ways, including offering accommodation in social housing, providing a grant or loan, or advice and advocacy to help secure a tenancy in the private rented sector. The relief duty should last for a period of 56 days. When the relief duty has ended, an applicant would be assessed to see if they were eligible for the main homelessness duty. People who are unintentionally homeless and in the priority need groups set out in current legislation would continue to be offered settled accommodation. The prevention and the relief duties would only apply if applicants cooperated with local authorities’ efforts to help.
- A duty to provide emergency accommodation for people who are homeless and have nowhere safe to stay
We believe no one should have to sleep rough. If someone has nowhere safe to stay they should be entitled to emergency interim accommodation. Local authorities would have a duty to secure this accommodation. Applicants would only be able to access emergency interim accommodation under this duty for a maximum of 56 days and on no more than one occasion every six months. A robust assessment would ensure the duty was only applied to people without anywhere safe to stay.