Communities and Local Government
Ian Austin (Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions); Dudley North, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
(1) what steps his Department is taking to reduce the incidence of rough sleeping;
(2) what estimate he has made of the incidence of rough sleeping in (a) the UK, (b) England and (c) the west midlands in each of the last five years;
(3) what guidance his Department issues to local authorities to assist in reducing the incidence of rough sleeping;
(4) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on trends in the incidence of homelessness and rough sleeping in (a) the UK and (b) England.
Grant Shapps (The Minister for Housing; Welwyn Hatfield, Conservative)
The coalition Government are committed to tackling and preventing rough sleeping. We have acted decisively to introduce a more accurate assessment of rough sleeping levels so that there is clear information in all areas, to inform service provision and action to address the problem. The previous Government's approach to assessing rough sleeping did not capture the full extent of the problem across the country.
The guidance ‘Evaluating the Extent of Rough Sleeping: A new approach’ was published in September 2010. This ensures that every local authority provides information on rough sleeping, unlike the previous system. The guidance is available on the Department's website at:
I recently announced additional funding to tackle and prevent rough sleeping. This includes:
£20 million—Homelessness Transition Fund to support the roll-out of ‘No Second Night Out’ and protect vital front line services.
£20 million—Single Homelessness Prevention Fund to help ensure single homeless people get access to good housing advice.
£5 million boost to the Homelessness Change Programme (bringing the total investment to £42.5 million) to deliver improved hostel provision and provide over 1,500 new and improved bed spaces.
£5 million—Social Impact Bond—using a payment by results model to help persistent rough sleepers in London. This is the first Social Impact Bond set up to tackle homelessness in the world.
This comes on top of the existing £400 million homelessness grant this Government have protected over the next four years.
Ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government regularly meet with their colleagues in other Departments to discuss cross-cutting issues. My colleague Lord David Freud represents the Department for Work and Pensions on the Ministerial Working Group on Homelessness which I chair. The group has pledged that for the first time no one should ever need to experience a second night sleeping rough.
Rough sleeping figures for England can be found on my Department's website. Comparative figures for the last five years are not available due to the improved counting adopted by this Government.
The London CHAIN report for 2010-11 highlights that over half of London's rough sleepers are non-UK citizens. We are working with the Passage Day centre in London to develop a campaign in the key eastern European countries to highlight the problems faced by destitute economic migrants. We are also working closely with the Mayor's team and the relevant embassies to reconnect migrant rough sleepers to their home country.