This week we learned of a family sleeping rough with 3 children as the placement unit simply could not accommodate them. These are real people, not just numbers on a list, who are suffering daily and the Government needs to show the same urgency towards human beings as they show corporate entities when they run into financial difficulty. It is clear the desperate situation many families find themselves in and that it is of little priority to this Government. The situation is not going to solve itself.
Late last year I submitted the Housing (Homeless Prevention) Bill 2014, still under examination by senior Ministers, if this Bill was passed by the house it would greatly improve the way in which local authorities can deal with families in danger of becoming homeless and would ensure that safeguards are in place to make sure a family is never directed to sleep rough due to the housing crisis; I have also sent numerous Parliamentary Questions regarding the lack of urgency around homelessness. If anyone would like a copy of my Bill and what it proposes comment below and I will mail a copy.
In the time since I submitted my Homeless Prevention Bill numerous, less important bills have passed through the house.
I have been calling on the Gov to consider the Scottish model when looking at housing and the right to housing. In Scotland there is a legislative basis to the right to a home which has changed local authority practice. The Scottish system therefore engages with people at risk of homelessness, not when they are homeless. In view of this right, the local authority must be informed of anyone in the private rented sector who is threatened with eviction. This legislation was agreed by political consensus. My bill, which is waiting to make it onto the floor of the House, was created in conjunction with housing organisations and the Bill would introduce similar legislation here meaning that the local authority would not wait until a person is homeless and that it could deal with the situation beforehand. Scotland recognised that having people homeless and in emergency accommodation is very expensive – we know this too – not to mention the other emotional and psychological costs. Glasgow was able to close its emergency accommodation because it was not needed whereas in this country our housing situation is worsening.