HC Deb 01 November 1993 vol 231 cc3-5
2. Mr. Jon Owen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many people were recognised as homeless in Cardiff and Wales at the last date for which figures are available.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Gwilym Jones)

The figures are 671 and 2,703 respectively.

Mr. Jon Owen Jones

I do not know where the Minister got those figures, because I am informed that Cardiff city council had to cope with 2,700 inquiries on homelessness last year, which represents a 26 per cent. increase on the previous year. In the past six months, the number of inquiries has increased by a further 12 per cent. What extra help will the Welsh Office give to local authorities such as Cardiff to cope with the huge number of homeless, which has increased as a result of Government policy?

Mr. Gwilym Jones

The answer to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question is that the figure of 671 came from Cardiff city council and the figure relating to Wales came from the other Welsh local authorities. The hon. Gentleman should be aware that we have supported a project worth £800,000 specifically designed to try to help single, vulnerable, homeless people in Cardiff. I attended the launch of that project a while ago and I went to see one of the new homes provided by it, which was, incidentally, in the hon. Gentleman's constituency.

Mr. Jonathan Evans

Can my hon. Friend confirm that the majority of cases of homelessness are attributable to family breakdowns and to disputes between relatives, parents and the like? Those cases represent the big increase in homelessness to which reference has been made and which is recorded in the figures that have been produced by the Welsh Office, on the basis of information provided by Welsh local authorities.

Mr. Jones

My hon. Friend is correct. It is important to keep those figures in perspective. Of all local authority lettings and housing association lettings, only approximately 25 per cent. are taken by homeless people.

Mr. Alex Carlile

Bearing in mind the evidence that homelessness is increasing in Welsh rural areas as well as in the urban areas, does the Minister agree that it would be quite unacceptable if Government funding for Tai Cymru —Housing for Wales—were the victim of public expenditure cuts?

Mr. Jones

I acknowledge the question that the hon. and learned Gentleman has raised and the importance of funding for Housing for Wales will be given the fullest consideration.

Mr. Wigley

Is the Minister aware that of the 6,000 homeless cases involving children and/or pregnancies in Wales last year, only 500 involved pregnant single mothers, and of those only 47 were allotted permanent accommodation? In those circumstances, is not the Welsh Office going over the top in drawing attention to the plight of those people, rather than that of the 99 per cent. of homeless who do not fall into that category and who experience enormous difficulties in trying to find somewhere to live?

Mr. Jones

No, Madam Speaker. The Welsh Office is certainly not going over the top on that issue. In the interests of all the genuine cases who need housing, it is right that there should not be any unjustified fast track approach to obtaining either council accommodation or housing association accommodation.

Mr. Murphy

Does the Minister agree that he should go back to Cardiff city council to check his figures, since the total number of inquiries from homeless families in that city is nearly 3,000 and nearly 1,200 people were housed in temporary accommodation over the past year? Does he accept that a vital ingredient of family stability is a permanent home and cannot he see that the release of council capital receipts to build homes for thousands of homeless people in Wales is worth more than 100 moralising speeches about single parents?

Mr. Jones

As I said to the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones) the figures quoted were given to us by Welsh local councils, especially by Cardiff city council. I know of no money sitting idly not being used effectively for debt redemption. If there were any such moneys sitting idly, I would look to the councillors to pursue that situation energetically and if they failed to act, I would look to the local electors to show their disapproval at the earliest opportunity.

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