§ Dr. Roger Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will arrange for his Department to study the recent report published by the Department of the Environment on homeless persons, with a view to establishing a policy on the social and medical problems highlighted in that report.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
The report "Single and Homeless"*, which is based on work undertaken by researchers and was published by the Department of the Environment on 8 March, has been studied with interest by the Department.
There does not, however, appear to be any need to review established policies. The provision of health care and personal social services for the homeless is the responsibility of health and local authorities within the available resources. Guidance has already been issued to these authorities regarding the needs of the single homeless. The report confirms the crucial importance of close liaison between local agencies, already emphasised in "Care in Action"†—the handbook setting out the Government's main policies and priorities for the health and personal social services—and in the code of guidance‡ issued under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977. The nature of local arrangements for co-operation, apart from certain statutory requirements, is a matter for local decision.
* Single and Homeless, published by Department of the Environment 1982, price £9.50.
†Care in Action, A Handbook of Policies and Priorities for the Health and Personal Social Services in England, published by the Department of Health and Social Security 1981, price £3.30.
‡Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977 Code of Guidance (England and Wales), published by the Department of the Environment, the Department of Health and Social Security and the Welsh Office, 1977, price 70p.