§ Ms Glenda Jackson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what statutory responsibility local authorities have to offer homeless families a choice in the type of temporary accommodation they are offered.
§ Mr. Baldry
Local authorities have no statutory responsibility to offer a choice of temporary accommodation; this is a matter for their discretion in the light of local circumstances.
§ Mrs. Roche
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what provision he is making for the homeless people about to be evicted from the cold weather shelters; and how many beds are currently provided by those shelters.
§ Mr. Baldry
Under the Government's £96 million rough sleepers initiative, we have provided funding of £1.5 million for this year's winter shelter programme, which at its height provided 400 extra bedspaces in nine winter shelters in central London. The purpose of the winter shelter programme was only to provide shelter for people in central London who would otherwise sleep rough over the winter months. The shelters will close at the end of March.
Currently, around 170 of the 400 places are still in use; over 50 of these people have accepted offers of other accommodation, and the voluntary organisations running the shelters are continuing to help find alternative accommodation for those that remain. In doing so, they will be assisted by two new hostels funded under the RSI which opened this month, and which will provide a further 100 bed spaces; by vacancies in other London hostels; and by an estimated 100 units of permanent accommodation provided under the RSI becoming available in the last two weeks of March.