Thursday 4 November 2010

Government does plan to weaken statutory homeless protections, says Minister

The government intends to change the definition of homelessness, weakening the statutory obligations on local councils, as part of its housing benefit changes, DWP minister Lord Freud told a House of Commons Select Committee.

The Guardian reports:

Freud said it could be "quite valuable" to revise the current criteria in place, arguing: "We have found it very difficult to define homelessness in this country. The estimates [of homelessness] go from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands depending on who you are talking to."


"Clearly the common view of homelessness is nothing over one's head at all. The statutory definitions are different to that, and they are adequate housing."

Westminster Council had already written to the government to propose a series of specific changes which would weaken the statutory homelessness duties faced by councils which the Council argues are necessary if it is to be able to cope with the impact of the government's housing benefit cuts.

Supporters and critics of the government's housing policy have suggested that its reforms will almost certainly lead it to weaken these statutory obligations on homelessness. Freud is the first minister to publicly begin to argue for this in public.

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