As Member of Parliament, I do not play a direct role in the planning process. This is an issue for local councils and you may wish to contact your local councillor regarding planning queries.
Housing Supply and the Green Belt
Last year, I held a debate entitled "Housing, planning and the green belt". In this debate, I raised concerns regarding unsuitable developments, such as those being proposed to be built on green belt or flood plain. I also raised concerns that we are not building the right type of housing which is affordable my constituents. I will continue to raise these issues and you can read the full debate here.
Before being elected to Parliament, I spent three years working for Church Army raising money to create a hostel and day centre for homeless women in London. This work gave me an invaluable insight into homelessness. I came to realise that there are many potential issues which can lead to someone becoming homeless, family breakdown being the main one. Added to this are the problems of alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues and in some cases the inability to manage one’s own affairs.Therefore, this is a very complex issue to tackle.
In 2017, the Government introduced the Homelessness Reduction Act. The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came into force on 3 April 2018, signifying the biggest change to homelessness legislation in 40 years. This brought in new duties to prevent and relieve homelessness, such as:
- a new duty to prevent homelessness for all eligible homeless applicants and those threatened with homelessness, regardless of priority need
- an extension of the period ‘threatened with homelessness’ from 28 to 56 days
- a new ‘duty to refer’ on public services to notify a local authority if they come into contact with someone they think may be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
Although there are no specific duties on housing associations, the sector can support many aspects of the Act, including making a voluntary commitment to notify the local authority if they come into contact with someone they think is at risk of becoming homeless.
In addition to this, the Government has also announced a £25 million funding boost to provide specialist support to help vulnerable people sleeping rough to recover from life on the streets. There is a long way to go in tackling homelessness and rough sleeping but these are positive steps towards doing so. You can read more about the recent announcement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/brokenshire-confirms-over-25-million-to-help-vulnerable-rough-sleepers