§ Lady Hermon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people were registered homeless in Northern Ireland in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the measures he is taking to address homelessness in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Spellar
The information requested is as follows:
Financial year Number accepted as homeless 2002–03 8,580 2001–02 7,374 2000–01 6,457 1999–2000 5,192 1998–99 4,997
The Government are fully committed towards helping those unfortunate enough to become homeless and while the figures show an annual increase, last year the Northern Ireland Housing Executive re-housed half of all homeless households within three months and 94 per cent. within 12 months. This year the Government plan to fund the provision of 213 new units in Northern Ireland, specifically for homeless families and single people, at a total cost of around £13.5 million. It is also overseeing the implementation of new arrangements for providing housing support services which include provision to help sustain and improve the existing support services provided to homeless people. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has published the Northern Ireland Homeless Strategy and is working in partnership with all of those who have a part to play in tackling the problem of homelessness. In addition, an inter-departmental, cross sectoral Promoting Social Inclusion Review Group has been set up to consider how to ensure, firstly, that the risk of homelessness is reduced and secondly, that the full range of appropriate services is available to homeless people.413W