HC Deb 19 October 1999 vol 336 cc500-1W
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) how many families were made homeless within(a) Sefton and (b) Merseyside in each year since 1993; [94580]

(2) how many people have been homeless during the last five years broken down by gender in Merseyside. [94648]

Mr. Mullin

Data on homelessness activity are reported each quarter by local authorities and this includes the number of households accepted as homeless and in priority need under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 and 1996 Housing Acts. Further classification by gender, or numbers of people, is not collected. The following table summarises information provided by authorities in Merseyside since 1994:

Households accepted as being unintentionally homeless and in priority need
Year Sefton All Merseyside
1994 218 3,235
1995 191 2,900
1996 166 2,557
1997 106 2,093
1998 109 1,995
1999 1st half 68 11,030
1 An estimate for non response from one authority is included in this figure

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to further reduce homelessness among(a) families and (b) young people. [94582]

Mr. Mullin

The Government have a Manifesto commitment to impose a new duty on local authorities to protect those who are homeless through no fault of their own and are in priority need. This includes families with children and others who are regarded as vulnerable, which can include young people. Since taking office, we have already strengthened the legislation to give homeless people reasonable preference in the allocation of long-term social housing.

My Department has set up an official-level sounding board with the local authority associations, Shelter, the Chartered Institute of Housing and others to discuss further proposals for change, on which we would propose to consult more widely in due course. In particular, we will be looking at ways of encouraging more partnership working at a local level, through the development of local homelessness strategies and preventive initiatives. We will also be considering further measures to ensure that housing solutions are sustainable in order to reduce the risk of homelessness recurring.

The Department has also established a Youth Homelessness Action Partnership, again with both the voluntary and statutory sectors, to look at the particular problems faced by young people and to develop proposals for tackling them. Our revised Code of Guidance on the Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness, due to be published around the end of the year, will recommend local authorities to treat young care-leavers, especially, as being vulnerable under the homelessness legislation.

My Department is also contributing to follow-up work on the Social Exclusion Unit's reports, which have a particular bearing on young people, including "Bridging the Gap", and the "Report on Rough Sleeping". These measures include: the extension to young homeless people of the Education Maintenance Allowance pilots (which aim to encourage young people to remain in full-time education and so improve their life-skills); the introduction of a new Youth Support Service, with links to statutory and voluntary housing and homelessness agencies; and the establishment of the new Rough Sleepers Unit, which is co-ordinating Government action to achieve our target of reducing the number of people sleeping rough in England by two-thirds by 2002.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to use lottery funding to support projects and organisations which help the homeless. [94649]

Mr. Mullin

None. Responsibility for distributing proceeds from the National Lottery rests with a number of distributing bodies which make their decisions independently of Government.

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