HL Deb 07 July 1998 vol 591 c126WA
Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will give details of the work of the Social Exclusion Unit on rough sleepers. [HL2632]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard)

Yesterday the Prime Minister published the Government's conclusions on the second report of the Social Exclusion Unit on rough sleeping. The report sets out a new strategy to cut the numbers of people sleeping rough by two-thirds within three years.

A new ministerial committee, led by the Minister for Local Government and Housing, will be responsible for co-ordinating the policy across government.

The committee will lead a programme of prevention to ensure that the most vulnerable, often from institutional backgrounds, are better equipped to live on their own.

In London, where the problem is most acute, the Government will consult on setting up a new body to take over all the different programmes currently targeted on rough sleepers. Outside London, local authorities will be helped to co-ordinate activity better.

The rules of the New Deal will be changed to mean rough sleepers can qualify for the intensive help available under the scheme from the moment they sign on for benefit. This is a tremendous opportunity to break the "no home, no job" cycle. Finally, there will be a programme to challenge the business and voluntary sectors and the worlds of art and sports to make their own commitment to help rough sleepers. The Government will support a rough sleeper mentoring initiative if a suitable proposal is made.

Copies of the report are available in the Libraries of both Houses.