HC Deb 08 February 2000 vol 344 cc96-7W
34. Fiona Mactaggart

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on actions taken by his Department to tackle homelessness among young people. [107341]

Ms Armstrong

Since coming to office, we have taken a number of positive steps to tackle youth homelessness and ensure better housing outcomes for young people. These include work on the promotion of local homelessness strategies and preventative initiatives; setting up the Youth Homelessness Action Partnership to look at the particular problems young homeless people face; and committing an integrated budget of £145 million until 2002 to tackle all aspects of rough sleeping.

Helen Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made in implementing the recommendation of the Social Exclusion Unit to allow housing authorities to accept as being vulnerable under the provisions of homelessness legislation 16 and 17 year olds who have no family support. [108520]

Mr. Mullin

Local authorities already have the power to accommodate young people whom they consider to be vulnerable and therefore in priority need, under the provisions of the Housing Act 1996. We recognise that young people who are leaving care may face particular difficulties in making the transition to independent living, as a consequence of institutionalisation and perhaps having limited back up support. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' revised draft Code of Guidance on the Allocation of Accommodation and Homelessness, due to be published in the Spring, will therefore recommend that local authorities treat young care leavers, and 16–17 year olds with little or no back up support, as being vulnerable under the homelessness legislation.

In the revised Code of Guidance we will be recommending strategies for co-ordinated working between agencies, including the value of exploring joint assessments for those with multiple needs at an early stage. The Guidance will also explicitly refer to the need for this approach when assessing homelessness applications from vulnerable people and when dealing with the needs of young people between the ages of 16–18. The forthcoming Housing Green Paper is likely to include proposals for reform of the homelessness legislation to provide further protection for vulnerable people in priority need.

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