HC Deb 23 July 2002 vol 389 cc997-8W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what statutory powers are vested in(a) local housing authorities, (b) local social services authorities and (c) other authorities to offer financial assistance to intentionally homeless families with a child in order to secure for that child a permanent home with his or her family. [69240]

Mr. McNulty

Under section 190(2)(b) of the Housing Act 1996, local housing authorities have a duty to ensure that applicants who are eligible for assistance, intentionally homeless and who have dependant children are provided with advice and assistance in any attempts they may make to secure accommodation for themselves. Advice and assistance may include the provision of financial assistance.

Under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, social services authorities have a duty:

  1. (a) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who are in need; and
  2. (b) so far as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families.

Where the child is a child in need solely as a result of family homelessness the social services authority can assist the family to obtain accommodation, possibly by providing temporary accommodation or a rent deposit, if they consider that this is the best way of meeting his needs.

Under section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000, local authorities have a power to promote the economic, social or environmental well-being of their area, which includes a power to give financial assistance. If the authority chooses, the power in section 2 can be exercised for the benefit of individuals in the area. This power does not apply where an activity is prohibited by other legislation.

The Government have introduced an amendment to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill, currently being considered by Parliament, that will curtail the support that local authorities can provide to certain categories of new arrivals in the UK who seek support.