A local government sector think tank has launched a commission aimed at developing ‘strong, practical recommendations’ to help councils tackle homelessness.
The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA), passed in April, made it a legal requirement for councils to implement housing plans for anyone at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days.
This is one of the measures the Government has taken to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027.
In order to support councils in their expanded duties, the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) today launched the Local Government Homelessness Commission (LGHC).
Co-chaired by Sevenoaks District Council leader Cllr Peter Fleming and Cllr Simon Blackburn, the leader of Blackpool Council, the year-long commission will provide practical solutions for delivering on the goals of the HRA.
It will also inform the Government what resources, powers and infrastructure are required by councils for them to tackle homelessness in their local areas.
‘There is a clear and unambiguous need for local government to put our collective minds to solutions that can be quickly moved to actions, to urgently turn the runaway train of increasing homelessness in this country around,’ said Cllr Fleming.
‘The LGIU’s Local Government Homelessness Commission, timed as it is after the Government's Homelessness Reduction Act, allows us to look at what is being done, what can be done and what more needs to be done to make a long lasting and real impact on reducing homelessness in this country.’
Cllr Simon Blackburn commented: ‘With the crisis of homelessness increasing rapidly, we have a responsibility across local government to step up and find ways that it can be tackled.
‘This is a complex picture, which is different in different parts of the country. It is therefore about using the right tools to prevent homelessness in local areas, but we also call on central Government for the resources and support to make this work.
‘The Local Government Homelessness Commission, which LGiU has set up, is timely and, most important, it will be led by the councils and councillors with the responsibility to address this problem.’
The commission will focus on four key themes aimed at preventing homelessness including: temporary accommodation; data; supporting young people and other vulnerable groups; and economics and finance.
Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of LGiU, said: ‘This is an essential time for local government to examine what can be done locally to combat the rapidly growing homelessness crisis across the country.
‘It is for this reason that we are proud to be launching the Local Government Homelessness Commission with the support of our co-chairs and members.
‘The Commission’s work is an important milestone as we look to build best practice and identify what resources, powers and tools are required from Government moving forward for councils up and down the country to take a lead in preventing this crisis.’