HL Deb 10 February 1998 vol 585 cc158-9WA
Lord Braine of Wheatley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consider directly allocating to the organisation LIFE a modest grant to enable it to expand its care service and housing programme for homeless pregnant women. [HL300]

Baroness Jay of Paddington

The Government currently pay a grant of £15,569 to LIFE (Northern Ireland) towards its central administrative costs under Article 71(2) of the Health and Personal Social Services (NI) Order 1972. We have not been approached by LIFE to extend grant aid payable to LIFE (NI). The closing date for applications for 1998–99 was 30 November 1997. Application forms for 1999–2000 will be available in September 1998.

The main way in which the Department of Health provides grants to voluntary organisations is through Section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968. This annual grants scheme is always oversubscribed and the department receives many more good applications than it can meet. The Department of Health did not receive an application for the 1998–99 round of Section 64 funding from the national LIFE organisation. Application forms for 1999–2000 will be distributed in July this year. I will ensure that one is sent to LIFE.

Health and local authorities have powers similar to the Department of Health, and they are in the best position to determine the allocation of funds at their disposal in relation to local priorities and competing demand. LIFE may wish to consider applying for funding there.

The Government provide funding to the Housing Corporation for the provision of new housing to meet priority housing needs. The priority needs are those identified by local authorities in their housing strategies. In addition, local authorities also provide support for new schemes. LIFE may, therefore, wish to develop, or build on, its links with local authorities to help ensure that the needs of homeless pregnant women and unsupported mothers are taken into account alongside other priority needs for housing.