HC Deb 17 November 1981 vol 13 c116W
Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list (a) those voluntary organisations concerned with the needs of homeless people which his Department assists by way of grant, (b) those changes in legislation he has made which will be of assistance to homeless people and (c) other policy initiatives he has taken which will benefit homeless people and the work for the homeless of voluntary organisation and local authorities.

Sir George Young

(a) The following voluntary organisations currently receive grant under section 13 of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977: SHAC—the London Housing Aid Centre; Shelter National Housing Aid Trust; After Six Housing Advisory Service; CHAR—Campaign for Single Homeless People; National Association of Voluntary Hostels; National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders; Women's Aid Federation (England); and Life Care and Housing Trust. A wide range of voluntary projects assisting the homeless at local level are also grant-aided through the urban programme.

(b) The legislation specifically concerned with homelessness is the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977, the operation of which is under review to see whether any changes are necessary. Among the many measures taken by the Government in the Housing Act 1980 to improve the availability of accommodation, those in the following areas will be of particular benefit to homeless people: public sector tenants' rights to take in lodgers and to sublet; shorthold and other measures to encourge lettings in the private rented sector; and special provision for temporary accommodation. The measures to promote low-cost home ownership will also be of benefit by reducing pressure on limited council accommodation.

(c) Among other, non-legislative initiatives we have taken, the following will also help alleviate homelessness. We have given encouragement to schemes for starter homes and building for sale. The reform of housing project control will allow local authorities greater flexibility to decide what standards and costs give best value for money in meeting their particular local housing needs. £12 million was allocated in 1981–82 for the Housing Corporation to assist housing associations to provide hostels for such groups as the single homeless. A number of research projects and surveys sponsored by my Department to examine the needs of the homeless and experience in provision for them should provide examples of good practice and other useful information for local authorities and voluntary bodies.