HC Deb 11 July 2002 vol 388 cc1148-9W
Mr. Laws

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the incentives there are in the system of allocation for social housing for young people to have children at an early age; and if he will make a statement. [62399]

Mr. McNulty

S167 of the Housing Act 1996 provides that local housing authorities must give reasonable preference in the allocation of social housing to families with dependent children, and to households consisting of or including someone who is expecting a child. Under S16 of the Homelessness Act 2002, which will come into effect early next year, the "reasonable preference categories" are revised to reflect housing need more clearly in their formulation.

The Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy aims to have the under 18 conception rate by 2010 and increase the participation of teenage parents in education and employment. Early signs of the strategy's impact are encouraging with figures for 2000 showing a 6.2 per cent. reduction from 1998 in both under-18 and under-16 conception rates. The percentage of teenage parents in education or employment has increased from 17 per cent. in 1996 to 29 per cent. in 2001.

Our strategy also sets the aim that all lone parents under 18, who cannot live with their parents or partner, should be provided with suitable accommodation with support by 2003. To date the Housing Corporation has approved funding for over 1,500 new units of supported accommodation for young parents. Supported housing offers young parents adult and peer support to help prepare them for independent living and facilitate their return to education or employment.