The Homelessness Reduction Act isn't working

By Mike Barrett

15 April 2019

When the government launched its Homelessness Reduction Act a year ago, charities welcomed the new legislation as a huge step forward but warned that it wouldn’t solve the country’s rough sleeping crisis.

Sadly, we’ve been proved right.

The Homelessness Reduction Act puts a legal duty on local councils to prevent people from becoming homeless. It also requires councils to offer help to all homeless applicants, regardless of priority need. 

But cash-strapped councils are struggling to meet the costs of these extra measures, according to a report by the Local Government Association. It says that:

  • Limited access to affordable housing and a lack of suitable accommodation for people who are already sleeping rough is a serious concern for 91% of councils
  • Excessive levels of paperwork required by the Act are costing councils too much in administration costs and are hampering their ability to meet the needs of people at risk of homelessness.

​Porchlight and other homelessness charities have long been saying that in order to make the real changes that are required, local councils need proper financial investment.

And even with sufficient funding, the Homelessness Reduction Act will not work on its own. Because until the government starts to tackle the underlying issues around homelessness, including the lack of social housing, high rents and crippling welfare reforms, people will continue to be forced into poverty and onto the streets.