HC Deb 21 April 1982 vol 22 cc268-70
20. Mr. Heddle

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is able to make any estimate of the number of persons previously homeless who are now housed in privately rented accommodation.

Sir George Young

Statistics provided by local authorities in England in 1980 indicate that the first accommodation secured for homeless households, for whom they accepted responsibility, was in the private sector in some 800 cases. But this does not cover households originally found accommodation in hostels or bed and breakfast hotels, who may move on into private rented housing; nor those homeless for whom the local authorities do not accept responsibility, almost all of whom will have to find accommodation in the private sector.

Mr. Heddle

Could not homelessness be considerably reduced if more landlords and tenants could effect tenancies on a shorthold basis? Is it not the height of irresponsibility for the Labour Party to pursue a blind and dogmatic opposition to the principle of shorthold?

Sir George Young

My hon. Friend is right. The homeless have not been helped by the Labour Party's opposition to our shorthold initiatives.

Mr. Alton

Is the Minister aware that many of the major agencies dealing with homelessness, such as the Salvation Army and the Church Army, are dangerously short of funds to renew their hostels? Does he accept that many night shelters, such as the Crypt shelter in Liverpool, are turning people away at night because of insufficient beds? What does he intend to do about it?

Sir George Young

The Government have allocated 1.2 million in 1981–82 for the Housing Corporation, specifically to help housing associations to provide hostels for such groups as the single homeless. We have been able to increase that sum in the current year.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Minister try to persuade his colleagues to alter the Government's policy on capital expenditure for the homeless? Is he aware that in my borough there are many who are homeless, and that it would be cheaper to accommodate them if he would accept the proposition put forward by the London borough of Brent that it should purchase the necessary accommodation as a matter of capital expenditure instead of providing bed and breakfast accommodation?

Sir George Young

I am not sure whether that is the most economic way of meeting housing needs but I shall consider the hon. Gentleman's proposition.

Back to