§ Mr. Heddle
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has yet reached a decision on the allocation of the additional £21 million resources for homelessness which he announced on 17 June.
§ Mr. Waldegrave
The allocations have been made to this Department's regional offices as follows:
Region Allocation £ million Northern 0.8 Yorkshire and Humberside 1.1 North West 2.8 East Midlands 0.8 West Midlands 1.3 Eastern 0.5 London 10.5 South Eastern 2.5 South West 0.5 Merseyside task force 0.3 TOTAL 21.1
These extra resources will enable local authorities to provide additional units of accommodation for homeless people, with the emphasis being given to bringing empty properties back into use and reducing dependence, particularly in London, on bed-and-breakfast accommodation.
That is a far more sensible and cost-effective use of resources than, for example, leasing hotel space, which can, in certain circumstances, attract subsidy under the detailed rules of the Housing Act 1985 system. Because of the present subsidy system, such arrangements can be virtually without cost to local authorities, which could serve to encourage extended use of bed-and-breakfast hotels rather than other better forms of provision. This is wholly unsatisfactory. Where subsidy is available it must be put to better purpose to help the homeless through provision of permanent accommodation.
I intend, therefore, that payments by local authorities on the leases of whole or part of hotels, signed after midnight tonight, will not qualify for subsidy. The existing arrangements for subsidy on the leasing of separate and self-contained premises will not be affected.