Many of you will be aware that the second reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill is taking place on 28 October and I am grateful for all the emails I have received from concerned constituents regarding this.

 

I believe that, in a civilized society, it is unacceptable that people should be faced with the fear of homelessness, and homelessness acceptances are now less than half of what they were during their peak in 2003-04 under the previous Labour Government.

 

A Ministerial Working Group was set up in 2010 in order to tackle the problems behind rough sleepers and those at risk of homelessness. Their report, 'Making Every Contact Count' provided the blueprint for councils, charities, health services and the police to work together to prevent homelessness.

 

Since 2010, Government funding helped local authorities prevent over 1 million households from becoming homeless. The homelessness prevention grant has been maintained, totalling £315 million by 2019/20, and central funding for homelessness programmes is increasing to £139 million over the next five years.

 

A further £40 million will refurbish hostels to provide low-cost accommodation for young and single people, helping to prevent the tragic cycle of homelessness which traps too many people and enabling the most vulnerable to access housing, training and education.

 

I am sure that you will also welcome Government funding of £10 million to the National Homelessness Advice service to support frontline staff, along with £8 million for the Help for Single Homeless Fund. A total of £55 million has also been made available for the Homelessness Change and Platform for Life programmes. Homelessness Change aims to improve the physical and mental health outcomes for rough sleepers and support them towards independent living.

 

Furthermore, an additional £10 million will support innovative ways to prevent rough sleeping over two years, particularly in London. This will build on the success of the No Second Night Out initiative, which in the previous Parliament meant that over two-thirds of rough sleepers in 20 key areas outside London did not spend a second night out on the streets.

 

I have been assured by my Ministerial colleagues that the Government is considering a broad range of options, including legislation, to prevent more people from becoming homeless.

 

The report by the Crisis Expert Panel, to which St Mungo's contributed, has been welcomed by the Government. It provides a valuable insight into how aspects of the current legislation in England can be updated in light of the model adopted in Wales.

 

The Homelessness Reduction Bill has just been published and I will look closely at the contents of the Bill over the coming weeks.