§ Mr. Callaghan
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he is taking to tackle homelessness amongst 16 to 20-year-olds. 
§ Mr. Clappison
Under the Children Act 1989, local authority social services departments have a duty to provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who has reached the age of 16 and whose welfare the authority consider is likely to be seriously prejudiced if they do not provide accommodation. Local authorities have a duty to advise and assist young persons aged under 21 who have left local authority care after reaching the age of 16; this assistance can include help with accommodation.
My Department provides grants under section 73 of the Housing Act 1985 to a range of voluntary organisations throughout England which offer practical help to homeless people. Many of these projects will assist homeless young people. In 1995–96, £6.9 million has been made available and a further £25 million will be made available over the next three years. Since 1990, my Department has also provided £182 million through the rough sleepers initiative to help rough sleepers in central London. Independent research shows that this has been particularly effective in helping young people to start a new life away from the streets. Plans for the third phase of the initiative were announced by my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Urban Regeneration in his reply to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson) on 4 March 1996.
In addition, various Government programmes including the rough sleepers initiative and the single regeneration budget have funded the development and operation of a range of foyer projects, hostels based on a French model which provide accommodation linked with training and job opportunities for homeless and unemployed young people.
§ Mr. David Nicholson
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the shortfall since September 1995 in available places for applicants to hostels intended to provide shelter for homeless people in central London; and if he will make a statement on his policies to deal with this problem. 
§ Mr. Clappison
This information is not held centrally. I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Urban Regeneration on 4 March 1996,Official Report, columns 8–10, about the Government's plans for the next phase—1996–99—of the rough sleepers initiative. These plans include the offer to fund up to 200 additional beds in temporary hostel accommodation, and continued funding for some hostel and night shelter accommodation already funded under the initiative.