Following the recent report presented to Policy, Resources and Growth Committee on the challenges facing those who find themselves homeless or rough sleeping in Brighton and Hove, I was delighted to see the Government support a new Bill to reduce homelessness this week.
The Homelessness Reduction Bill will widen the scope of who is eligible for support and transform the way in which homeless people are looked after in England. Current rules, which date back to 1977, specify that only single mothers and fathers, individuals with mental health issues or victims of domestic violence and those who have recently left the armed forces can go to the front of the queue for housing assistance. However, the Government backed private member’s Bill, put forward by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, will place a new duty on councils to prevent the homelessness of anyone eligible for assistance within 56 days, regardless of their official ‘priority need’ status.
During the recent presentation to Policy, Resources and Growth Committee, the Conservative Group fully supported officer’s plans to provide a greater and more targeted level of assistance to those who need it and expressed that as a Council we should be doing everything we can to help people who find themselves in such situations, often through no fault of their own.
I am delighted to see that we as Conservatives are showing such a strong commitment to doing all we can both locally and nationally to help those who become homeless and provide them with the support they need to get their lives back on track.
The Government’s support of the Bill is in addition to a £40m programme of new measures to tackle homelessness that were announced last week which includes £20 million for local authorities to pilot new initiatives to tackle homelessness, £10 million for targeted support for those at imminent risk of sleeping rough or those new to the streets and £10 million in Social Impact Bonds to help long-term rough sleepers with the most complex needs.
In less favourable news, I was hugely disappointed that the bid to expand Gatwick airport was not taken forward by the Government, who instead opted for the development of a third runway at Heathrow. From a local perspective, the additional runway at Gatwick would have had hugely positive implications for the city in terms of creating jobs and boosting our economy. Previously, a Gatwick spokesman had said that the airport will continue to prepare for expansion, even if it is not chosen by the UK government over Heathrow. I hope they will do so following the announcement and I give them my full support.
This article appeared in the Brighton & Hove Independent published on 28th October