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Jon Sparkes @jon_sparkes Crisis Chief Executive

No One Turned Away: changing the law to prevent and tackle homelessness

Today, we launch our report setting out how to reform the homelessness legislation. We are calling on MPs to change the law to ensure that no one is turned away when they approach their local authority for help. Our proposals would ensure that homelessness is tackled at a much earlier point, and single people receive a much more robust package of support

The homelessness legislation should serve as an important safety net to help protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society. However as the law in England stands, single homeless people who go to their councils for help can be turned away because they are not deemed to be a priority. This can be catastrophic for individuals, trapping them in homelessness for far longer, and is costly for local and national government.

It is nearly 40 years since the system of priority need was introduced. It’s time to change the law so that all homeless people can get meaningful help and that where possible this happens before someone loses their home. Homelessness isn’t inevitable, and we don’t need to look very far to find alternative frameworks for dealing with it.

Both Scotland and Wales have enacted legislation that helps to address the historic lack of entitlements for single people. Neither system is perfect, but they do represent a step-change in tackling homelessness.

Take action now: www.crisis.org.uk/NoOneTurnedAway

Crisis has campaigned on this issue for many years and our vision is to end the discrimination that single people face within the system in the UK. In England we recently convened an independent panel of experts from across the homelessness and housing sector, housing lawyers, and local authorities to review the homelessness legislation and come up with an ambitious but practical alternative. This report sets out a new legal model that would ensure people facing homelessness receive a much more robust package of support at a much earlier point. If implemented I am convinced these thoughtful proposals would enable many more people to have their homelessness prevented and that over time significant financial savings would be made.

With cross party support for this legislative proposal, the backing of local authorities and support from across the housing and homelessness sector, the case for reform is both timely and compelling.

Homelessness has risen significantly over the past five years. Nobody should be forced to sleep rough because they can’t get the help they need. I urge the government to seize this important opportunity to help end the devastation of homelessness for thousands of people.

We know that Ministers are seriously considering changing the law  so that councils intervene earlier to prevent and solve homelessness. We urge them to take the next step and announce firm plans for reform.

But backbench MPs also have a chance to put this vital issue in front of their parliamentary colleagues.  Later this month a select few who win a ballot will get the chance to put forward their own law as a “private member’s bill”. Because the MPs who get this opportunity are likely to be guided by what their constituents care about, as a member of the public you can help the campaign by emailing your MP to explain why they should care about reforming the homelessness legislation.

Take action: email your MP today