HC Deb 15 April 2002 vol 383 c732W
Mr. Breed

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to reduce the incidence of rough sleeping in rural settlements with populations under 3,000; and if he will make a statement. [46454]

Ms Keeble

Recorded levels of rough sleeping in small rural settlements are not high. On 3 December 2001 the Prime Minister announced that the Rough Sleepers Unit had achieved its target of reducing rough sleeping by at least two-thirds by 2002.

The latest published rough sleeping figures for England show that all local authority areas containing rural settlements with populations under 3,000 returned either a count of less than 10 rough sleepers or an estimate of 0–10.

On 13 March the DTLR launched "More than a roof", the Government's new approach to tackling homelessness, which has sustaining the two-thirds reduction in rough sleeping as one of its key objectives.

Many former rough sleepers have now moved into shelters, hostels and their own homes as part of their move to an independent lifestyle, but many still need help to rebuild their lives away from the streets. It is also vital that we continue to prevent those vulnerable to rough sleeping from hitting the streets in the first place and that those still on the streets receive the help they need to come inside.

The DTLR will invest over £30 million during 2002–03 to support local strategies around the country to ensure the two thirds reduction is sustained——the same level of revenue funding that led to the Rough Sleepers Unit meeting its target.

The new Homelessness Act will also bring about radical change in the way that central and local government, and all other partners, work together to tackle homelessness in all parts of the country including rural areas. For the first time ever, local authorities will be required to carry out a review and develop a strategy for their area that prevents homelessness and provides solutions for people who are, or who may become, homeless.

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