HC Deb 23 October 2000 vol 355 cc58-60W
Dr. Lynne Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 21 July 2000,Official Report, column 350W, if he will list all departmental initiatives between May 1997 and 18 July 2000 requiring bids from voluntary organisations and local authorities for funding, together with the total resources allocated to these initiatives, the number of successful bids and the proportion this represents of total bids received; and what data he collects on the average cost of preparing the bids for funding through each initiative. [133983]

Ms Beverley Hughes

The table lists and shows the spending on those Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions' initiatives that have required bids from voluntary organisations and local authorities to the Department for funding in 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000 and 2000–01.

has to require local authorities to publish written policies on housing people suffering (a) racial harassment and (b) domestic violence. [133820]

Mr. Mullin

My Department has made it clear in this year's Housing Investment Programme (HIP) guidance to local authorities that we will wish to see evidence that authorities have robust measures in place to tackle racial harassment. My Department is also working closely with the Home Office, the lead Department on anti-social behaviour, to take forward the recommendations made by the Social Exclusion Unit's Policy Action Team (PAT) 8 on anti-social behaviour. One of those recommendations is that all social landlords should adopt a non-harassment clause in their tenancy agreements, and make clear the action that will be taken if the clause is breached.

This year's HIP guidance also makes it clear that my Department expects local housing authorities to set out in their housing strategy statements a comprehensive approach to addressing the housing and support needs of all vulnerable groups in the community—and this includes victims of domestic violence. Several recent Government publications, among them "Multi-agency guidance for addressing domestic violence" (March 2000) set out key issues which all agencies need to bear in mind, when developing their strategies with regard to domestic violence.

The Supporting people programme, which comes into effect in 2003, will require local authorities to audit the housing care and support needs of all vulnerable groups in their communities, and publish their strategies to meet these needs. The DETR/DoH/Women's unit has commissioned research on the availability of accommodation and support services for women accepted as homeless as a result of domestic violence. This research will collect information for the first time ever on the accommodation and support services provided by women's refuge groups and other providers, and measure households' satisfaction with the different accommodation and support needs available . The research project will produce guidance for local authorities on the option for meeting the needs of these households. This research and guidance will inform local authorities' strategies for Supporting People.

Ms Oona King

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions by what means he intends to evaluate pilot schemes for introducing choice into the letting of social housing; and if the results of these evaluations will be made public. [133819]

Mr. Mullin

We propose to commission researchers to work alongside the pilot authorities to monitor and evaluate the schemes and produce good practice guidance for social landlords drawing from the lessons learnt from the pilot schemes. We will be publishing the research findings and good practice guidance after the pilots are complete. We also plan to keep people informed about the progress of the pilot schemes during the implementation and evaluation process and will be issuing regular newsletters.

Ms Oona King

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the consistency with which local authorities assess the vulnerability of homeless applicants under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996. [133821]

Mr. Mullin

Local housing authorities provide quarterly statistical returns to the DETR about statutory homelessness which include details of all applicants accepted as having a priority need for accommodation because they are vulnerable. These returns are monitored on a continual basis. The Department has also commissioned research into local authority policy and practice on housing allocation, transfers and homelessness. The research is due to be published later this year and includes some analysis of the consistency of local housing authorities assessment of the vulnerability of homeless applicants under Part VII of the Housing act 1996.