HC Deb 18 December 1979 vol 976 cc151-2W
Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many men, and how many women, are currently living in his Department's reception centres; and how this figure compares with each year since 1970.

Sir George Young

The information is as follows:

centres might, if discharged, have a legal right to have accommodation secured for them by local authorities. Staff engaged in attempting to resettle men and women in the community are expected to place them, where possible, in suitable accommodation.

Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the conditions that exist in reception centres; if he has any plans to improve these conditions; if he has any plans to close any reception centres; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Chalker

The Supplementary Benefits Commission is always seeking to improve conditions in the reception centres which it administers on behalf of the Department. However, I am satisfied that the staff are, in general, providing a remarkably good standard of care to the homeless and often destitute and handicapped people who look to them for shelter, having regard to the age and unsuitability of some of the buildings. The oldest and least suitable of the buildings, at Camberwell, will be closed by 1985. The future of other centres is under continuous review.

In London a working party representing the London boroughs, the Greater London Council, the Thames health authorities, the Department of the Environment, the Supplementary Benefits Commission and this Department has been formed to facilitate the transfer of men and women from reception centres to housing accommodation within the community; the progress made will depend upon the response of individual authorities.