To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 on the support available for people released from prison.
25 November 2020
Everyone leaving prison should have somewhere safe and secure to live; accommodation enables offenders to hold down a job and reduces the likelihood of them reoffending.
The Homeless Reduction Act (HRA) is helping more people to get help earlier, particularly single people who often would not have received help in the past and would have been at risk of sleeping on our streets, including individuals leaving prison. The most recent HRA Experimental Statutory Homelessness Statistics, published by MHCLG in October, show that the National Probation Services made the largest number of homelessness referrals which resulted in an assessment. This was 27% of the total and an increase of almost 118% from April to June 2019. 95% of these resulted in a homelessness duty, which shows the duty to refer is working better for this cohort in the last quarter. In preparation for the new unified probation model, we are developing a policy framework, which will mandate necessary actions to be taken by prisons and probation staff in supporting the duty to refer and strengthen the process.
As part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Justice secured £8.5 million to support individuals at risk of homelessness on their release from prison and help them to move on to permanent accommodation. The scheme initially ran between 18th May and 31st August and provided up to 56 nights’ accommodation per individual. In light of the recent introduction of national restrictions across England from Thursday 5th November and the Welsh Government’s introduction of a ‘firebreak’, the Government has reinstated this accommodation support. This started from 22nd October 2020 and will be subject to monthly reviews. As part of its initial response, The Ministry of Justice, through Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), set up seven Homelessness Prevention Taskforces (HPTs) to work with local authorities and other partners to find accommodation for offenders released from prison; these taskforces continue to be active.
In addition, our accommodation pilots, in Leeds, Pentonville and Bristol, have been operating since August 2019. By the end of the enrolment period, the 31st July, we had enrolled 323 individuals onto the scheme. Subject to evaluation, we will use the lessons from the pilot to inform future provision of accommodation for all offenders, through the new Probation model.