THE scale of homelessness and rough sleeping across the UK is "a national disgrace", Islwyn MP Chris Evans has said.

Speaking during a debate on the issue in Parliament this week, the Labour MP said the UK Government should follow Wales' example and place a legal duty on local authorities to stop people from becoming homeless.

The Housing (Wales) Act, which came into force in 2016, also allows local authorities to use private sector accommodation to house people at risk of becoming homeless if necessary.

There are currently an estimated 345 rough sleepers in Wales, including 37 in Gwent, and between July and September last year 2,088 households in Wales were housed in temporary accommodation, 876 of which were families with children. And between April 2016 and March 2017 9,210 households in Wales were threatened with homelessness.

There are 9,000 people sleeping rough in England, along with 78,000 households in temporary accommodation, including 120,000 children.

Mr Evans said: "Although these tens of thousands have a roof over their heads, they do not have a place to call home.

"This is a national disgrace, but it is not inevitable."

He called on the UK Government to bring in legislation similar to the Housing (Wales) Act.

"Local authorities in Wales have assisted more people, and there has been a reduction in the number of people who remain homeless after seeking help," he said.

"That has been achieved, among other important changes, by placing a legal duty on local authorities to help to prevent homelessness.

"I strongly believe that England can and must follow the example set by Wales."

He added: "In my constituency of Islwyn and in Caerphilly we have the quality home assurance, which is providing top-quality accommodation.

"We are ensuring that families do not have to stay in bed and breakfasts, and that they are given accommodation as soon as they become homeless.

"These are small steps, but they are making a large difference to people’s lives in my constituency."

He said he was concerned the divide between "the haves and the have-nots" was getting wider.

"We can and we must act to reduce the extent of homelessness in this country," he said.

"It is our duty to those people and to the 120,000-plus children living in temporary accommodation.

"Their families are suffering. They need our help now."

The Housing (Wales) Act also requires private sector landlords and letting agents to be registered and licensed and for Gypsy and traveller sites to be provided in all local authority areas, and also gives councils powers to charge more council tax on long-term empty properties and some types of second homes.