HC Deb 05 February 1992 vol 203 c210W
Mr. Kirkwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many places are currently available in resettlement units throughout the United Kingdom, showing the location of each unit and the number of places in each unit;

(2) what sums have been allocated in his Departmental budget to provide resettlement unit places; and what plans he has made for the next three years;

(3) what research has been undertaken to investigate the need for places in resettlement units.

Miss Widdecombe

The management of the Resettlement Agency is a matter for Mr. Tony Ward, the chief executive. He will write to the hon. Member and copies will be placed in the Library and the Public Information Office.

Mr. Kirkwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement outlining Her Majesty's Government's current plans for those remaining resettlement units in terms of the duty imposed on him under the Social Security Act 1980.

Miss Widdecombe

Under the plans announced in 1985 we will have replaced eight resettlement units with better alternative facilities by March 1993. These units include most of those whose physical condition was the poorest.

We have now decided that the best way forward is to work towards the transfer of most of the remaining hostels directly to voluntary organisations and others who have skills and experience in caring for single homeless people.

The Resettlement Agency which is now responsible for running the units therefore intends to invite suitable organisations with the appropriate skills to tender for these, starting with the hostels at Newbury and Camden. The agency will continue to provide funding to organisations that take over the running of transferred units. If any savings are produced by this revised strategy they will be recycled to fund further replacement provision. The tendering process will also encourage outside organisations to make positive proposals for re-employing resettlement unit staff.

We believe that this approach is the best way to secure improved service to unsettled homeless people quickly, avoids the loss of local service and offers the best all-round value for money. By a combination of transfer and replacement the Resettlement Agency is now looking to complete its task of securing replacement providers within five years.