HC Deb 16 December 1996 vol 287 cc412-3W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what discussions he has had regarding accommodation for young people with welfare agencies; [9205]

(2) if he will estimate the number of care leavers who are at present seeking accommodation; [9209]

(3) what proposals he has to assist care leavers to find accommodation; [9207]

(4) if he will list the figures for care leavers in (a) Coventry and (b) the west midlands seeking accommodation; [9210]

(5) what discussions he has had with charities with special reference to Barnardos and the Children's Society regarding accommodation for care leavers. [9208]

Mr. Clappison

Ministers and officials in the Department have contact with many organisations to discuss and seek views on a range of housing issues, including the housing needs of young people such as care leavers. For example, the views of Barnardos and the Children's Society were obtained to inform the drafting of the code of guidance on parts VI and VII of the Housing Act 1996. On 20 January 1997, section 179 of that Act will come into force, requiring local housing authorities to ensure that advice and information about homelessness and the prevention of homelessness is available to anyone in their area, including care leavers.

On 1 April 1997, provisions in the 1996 Act will come into force requiring local housing authorities to give reasonable preference in the allocation of social housing to people with a particular need for settled accommodation on welfare grounds, which can include care leavers and other young people at risk. These new measures complement social services authorities' duties and powers under the Children Act 1989 to assist care leavers, and housing authorities' duties under the homelessness legislation to ensure that vulnerable young people who become homeless unintentionally have access to suitable accommodation. My Department does not collect data on the numbers of care leavers seeking accommodation.