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Saturday, 5 May, 2001, 02:04 GMT 03:04 UK
Homeless bill 'likely to fail'
Rough sleepers
Many homeless people end up sleeping rough
A bill helping the homeless is likely to become a casualty of the expected June general election.

The government's Homes Bill would have extended the obligations of local authorities to look after homeless people.

Homeless pressure group Shelter expressed "bitter disappointment" that the bill is likely to be lost.


The political system is set to fail millions of homeless and badly-housed people

Chris Holmes
Shelter
The bill is awaiting its line-by-line Committee Stage in the House of Lords but many MPs believe it is doomed never to become law.

They believe it is impossible for it to complete its stages before the dissolution of Parliament.

The Conservatives' 1996 Housing Act limited to two years the duty of local authorities to provide accommodation for homeless people.

'Sellers' packs'

The Homes Bill would have extended that duty, a principle with cross-party support.

But the Tories are believed to dislike the other "half" of the bill creating "sellers' packs" including surveys to facilitate house buying and selling.

Shelter want the main principles of the bill separated so only the sellers' pack idea suffers, but the government is believed to be resigned to losing the whole bill.

Chris Holmes, director of Shelter, said: "The political system is set to fail millions of homeless and badly-housed people.

"This bill is the best opportunity I have seen in 35 years of working in homelessness.

Cross-party support

"It would make a real and lasting difference.

"These measures have support from all the main political parties, local government, the voluntary sector and the public.

"If they fall, there will be bitter disappointment and homeless people will feel like they just simply do not matter enough."

Mr Holmes said the bill included measures to meet Labour's General Election manifesto commitment to provide a stable home for homeless families.

"If passed, it would - for the first time - give local authorities a responsibility to prevent homelessness, provide housing help for families fleeing racial and other violence and increase the amount of assistance given to single homeless people."

He said the bill was vital to prevent the misery and disruption caused by homelessness.

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See also:

20 Mar 01 | Scotland
Rough sleepers come in from the cold
05 Dec 00 | UK
Friends of a rough sleeper
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