Friday 25 September 2020
Health and Social Care
As the covid-19 incidence rate continues to rise across the country, a suite of local and national actions is required to break the trains of transmission and enable people to maintain a more normal way of life.
The Government will act swiftly and decisively to limit further spread, reduce disruption and contain local outbreaks. The local action committee command structure has been reviewing the latest evidence, working with local leaders and the scientific community to assess the data and whether further evidence is required.
The latest data shows a sharp increase in incidence rates per 100,000 population in Leeds, Blackpool, Wigan and Stockport, which are significantly above the national average.
As a result, we are making regulations which take effect from Saturday 26 September and will impose restrictions on inter-household mixing in private dwellings and gardens in Leeds, Stockport, Wigan and Blackpool. This is in line with measures seen elsewhere in the country, such as Leicester and the West Midlands. People who live in these areas will not be allowed to gather in a private dwelling or garden with any other household unless in a support bubble. People from anywhere else will also not be allowed to gather with another household in a private dwelling or garden in these areas.
We have also reviewed the position in Leicester, the Borough of Oadby and Wigston, Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Bolton, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale and the remaining local authorities in Greater Manchester and have decided to maintain their position on the watchlist as areas of intervention, as well as the current restrictions in these areas.
This will be difficult news for the people living in these areas, profoundly affecting their daily lives. These decisions are not taken lightly, and such measures will be kept under review and in place no longer than they are necessary. There are exemptions to these measures so people can still meet with those in their support bubble. There are other limited exemptions such as for work purposes or to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person. Through the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Protected Areas and Linked Childcare Households) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, people may create an exclusive childcare bubble for the purposes of informal childcare for children under 14, helping ease pressure on those living under local restrictions so they can get to work.
The guidance on gov.uk covering these areas will also be amended to fully reflect these changes.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Homelessness Reduction Act: Review
The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, which came into force in April 2018, is the most ambitious reform to homelessness legislation in decades and our manifesto committed to enforce the Act in full. It is a key lever for reducing homelessness as we seek to end rough sleeping within the lifetime of this Parliament.
The Act placed new duties on local housing authorities to take reasonable steps to try to prevent and relieve a person’s homelessness, and introduced a new duty on named public authorities to refer users of their service who they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to their chosen local housing authority. For the first time, local authorities and other public bodies must work together to actively prevent homelessness for people at risk.
During the passage of the Homelessness Reduction Act through Parliament, a commitment was made that a review of the Act would be undertaken within two years of commencement. This commitment was reaffirmed in the rough sleeping strategy. This was delayed by covid-19. However, today we are publishing this review. A copy will be deposited in the Library of the House and will be published on gov.uk at
The review found that the Act has significantly strengthened England’s homelessness safety net at the national and local level. The findings indicate positive change with more people being helped to prevent and relieve their homelessness than ever before, in particular single people who prior to the Act would have received much more limited support. Since the introduction of the Act, 365,000 single households—almost two thirds of the total number of households who were owed a prevention or relief duty—including 28,000 people with a history of rough sleeping and over 15,000 people who were rough sleeping at the time of the assessment, have been assessed as owed help to prevent or relieve their homelessness.
As you would expect for legislation in its infancy, there remain challenges to full and effective implementation. There are changes under the Act that will take a longer time to fully embed such as the development of the local homelessness workforce and engagement with public authorities under the duty to refer. The Government are committed to fully enforcing the Homelessness Reduction Act, and we will continue to work with the homelessness sector, local authorities and their partners to ensure the Act is working effectively for all involved. In 2020-21, the Government have provided an additional £63 million through the homelessness reduction grant for local authorities to implement the Act. Taken together, the overall amount spent on rough sleeping and homelessness this year is over half a billion pounds.