§ Brian Cotter
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress the Homelessness Directorate has made with regard to tackling homelessness. 
§ Mr. McNulty
I have been asked to reply.
The Homelessness Directorate brings together the Rough Sleepers Unit, the Bed and Breakfast Unit and a new team to advise local authorities on tackling homelessness. The Directorate aims to:
- sustain the success of meeting the Prime Minister's target of reducing rough sleeping by two thirds by 2002;
- ensure that by March 2004 no homeless families with children are living in bed and breakfast hotels except in an emergency and, even then, for no more than six weeks;
- promote new and more strategic approaches to tackle more effectively the growing problem of homelessness.
Since its establishment in March this year, the Homelessness Directorate has:
- published the report "More than a roof" which, together with the Secretary of State's response, sets out a new approach to tackling homelessness;
- reviewed local rough sleeping strategies in order to sustain the two thirds reduction in the number of rough sleepers in England;
- published a good practice handbook to help local authorities to conduct homelessness reviews and develop effective homelessness strategies;
- invited local authorities to apply for £10 million funding for homelessness strategies, to commence in July 2002:
- held a number of regional good practice conferences on reducing the use of B&B hotels;
- required high using B&B authorities to produce B&B reduction action plans, backed up by £35 million of new resources;
- participated in seven seminars organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing to promote awareness of the requirements of the Homelessness Act among housing and homelessness professionals;
- issued new advice to housing authorities on arrangements to ensure that all babies and children placed in temporary accommodation receive their health and developmental tests;
- improved the collection of information from local authorities to monitor the number of homeless families with children living in B&B hotels and to record the length of time they stay there.
Additionally, the Government have:
- taken through the Homelessness Act 2002 which will strengthen the statutory safety net for homeless people and ensure that all housing authorities have a homelessness strategy for their districts;
- confirmed its intention to bring the main homelessness provisions of that Act into force in July, together with an extension by order of the groups who are in priority need for housing;
- confirmed that £10 million will be allocated to local authorities in 2002–03 to help them deliver the proposed new priority needs order;
- amended housing benefit rues to provide additional incentives for private leasing as an alternative to the use of B&B hotels for homeless people;
- announced that tackling homelessness is a new theme for the Beacon Councils scheme.
§ Mr. McNulty
The Bed and Breakfast Unit, the Rough Sleepers Unit and the homelessness responsibilities which had resided in the former DTLR's Housing Directorate were merged from 1 April 2002 to form a new Homelessness Directorate. The administration costs for the Rough Sleepers Unit in 2001–02 were £1.33 million and those for the Bed and Breakfast Unit were £132,000.
§ Mr. McNulty
The Bed and Breakfast Unit, the Rough Sleepers Unit and the homelessness responsibilities which had resided in the former DTLR's: Housing Directorate were merged from 1 April to form a new Homelessness Directorate. The Homelessness Directorate has an overall budget for programme expenditure of £125 million for the current financial year. In addition to this the directorate has a separate budget to cover administration costs, which for the current financial year amounts to £1.6 million.