HC Deb 17 May 1991 vol 191 cc283-4W
Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made on the initiative to provide accommodation for people sleeping rough in central London.

Sir George Young

I am glad to be able to report that there has been significant progress on this initiative.

The Housing Corporation is announcing today the allocation of over £50 million to more than 50 housing associations in London, to provide some 1,400 bedspaces in permanent homes for people sleeping rough or in hostels in central London. This allocation is part of the total provision of £96 million over three years which my Department has made for rough sleepers in central London.

Today's allocations will bring to more than 2,300 the number of places in move-on housing for rough sleepers being provided this year and next. In addition, some 1,000 additional places in direct access hostels should be in place within the next few months. So far, about 1,000 places are available, in a mixture of move-on housing, hostels and short-term shelters.

The first Department of Health hostel for homeless mentally ill people was opened last month. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health is today announcing proposed additional revenue funding of £2.7 million over three years, of which his Department will provide £1.5 million and the Mental Health Foundation will endeavour to raise £1.2 million from private sources. This will provide further psychiatric support for people sleeping rough and in hostels in London.

The initiative is beginning to have a significant effect on the numbers of people sleeping rough in central London. The voluntary groups estimated in January that there were about 1,000 people sleeping rough in seven main areas in central London. Last month, the estimate was that numbers in these areas had come down to about 500.

I hope that this progress will continue as more accommodation becomes available. I am very grateful for the very positive way in which the voluntary groups, the housing associations and the London boroughs have responded to the initiative. Our aim remains to make it unnecessary for anyone to sleep rough in central London.