§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which local authorities (a) in Lancashire and (b) on Merseyside have now assumed responsibility for the homeless; which of these make provision for the priority groups designated in Circular 18/74; how many units of temporary accommodation for homeless people are available in each local authority area; and how many homeless families are currently being accommodated in bed and breakfast hotels.
§ Mr. Armstrong
The information I have is that all housing authorities in Lancashire and Merseyside have accepted some measure of responsibility for the homeless, and with some exceptions they 307W all provide for the priority groups as set out in the joint homelessness circular. The number of units of accommodation used temporarily by the housing authorities and the number of families in bed and breakfast accommodation in their area, varies according to circumstances and need, and the availability of permanent housing. Accommodation provided temporarily is by no means the sole measure of the overall help that housing authorities give to homeless people.
I understand that on 2nd December 1975, there were 69 people in bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Merseyside; the equivalent information for Lancashire is not readily available. On the same day, the local authorities regarded the following numbers of units as available for use temporarily by homeless people:
Lancashire Blackburn 0 Blackpool 0 Burnley 0 Chorley 12 Fylde 0 Hyndburn 0 Lancaster 3 Pendle 1 Preston 0 Ribble Valley 3 Rossendale 2 South Ribble 1 West Lancashire 8 Wyre 6 Merseyside Knowsley 0 Liverpool 1 St. Helens 3 Sefton 0 Wirral 6
§ Mr. Warren
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will introduce legislation to give district councils the necessary authority to take on the responsibility of housing homeless families.
§ Mr. Freeson
Local housing authorities have adequate powers to provide accommodation to meet housing needs in their district, including, of course, families who are homeless. However, as I told the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) on 1st December—[Vol. 901, c. 466]—I shall shortly be making a statement about our intention to place the statutory responsibility for accommodation for the homeless on housing authorities.