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'Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, which comes into force today removes the statutory safety net for homeless famil...
'Part VII of the Housing Act 1996, which comes into force today removes the statutory safety net for homeless families which has been in place since 1977,' said shadow housing minister Nick Raynsford.

He said: 'It is widely recognised that temporary accomodation is neither desirable in financial or social terms. It cost more than housing the homeless in permanent council homes and it is disruptive of family life. It beggars belief that the Tories should be deliberately forcing homeless families to spend time in temporary accommodation as a matter of policy rather than being rehoused directly.

'The new legislation will also make it easier for right wing councils like Wandsworth to refuse help to homeless applicants. This is simply a recipe for more homeless families enduring longer periods of time on the streets or in squalid and unsatisfactory temporary accommodation.

'There is no justification for three changes in the law. The previous was twice reviewed by Tory governments in both the early and late 1980s. Both reviews concluded that there was no case for a change in the law.

'John Major, unlike his predecessor Margaret Thatcher, has put right wing ideology ahead of common sense in repealing the provisions of the 1977 Housing (Homeless Persons) Act.

'This is a clear indication that the Tories have turned their back on the homeless. Labour will, as Tony Blair made clear in his recent speech at Shelter's 30th Anniversary, restore a proper statutory framework for local authorities to house those in priority need.'

He added: 'Labour will also revive Britain's housebuilding programme through the phased release of capital receipts and new public/private partnerships. Building new permanent homes is not just good for the homeless. It will also help jobs and contribute to Britain's economic recovery.'

%The legislation couldn't have been brought in at a worse time, said The Chartered Institute of Housing. The Institute said 100,000 new affordable homes per year were needed in England, with next year's projected total of 47,000 lettings undershooting even the Government's own aim of 60,000 social rented homes per year.

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