Local authorities have been asked to concentrate their available resources on homeless people and others in special need; it is for them to decide how to accommodate people whom they have accepted as homeless. Recent Government measures to help reduce reliance on bed and breakfast accommodation were set out in answer to a question by the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) on 16 January. Further steps are continually being considered by us and, I am sure, by the authorities most concerned.
Does the Minister not realise that even allowing for the Government's recent changes to the bed and breakfast system, the amount spent on it is exorbitant and would more than cover the cost of building many dwellings for the homeless? Will he explain why he prevents local authorities from spending a higher proportion of council house sale receipts on providing homes for those who are incurring such exorbitant costs?
Local authorities will always need temporary accommodation to house people while they consider whether to accept them as homeless. It is something that will always be with us under any form of council control. I think that the hon. Gentleman should do more to welcome the substantial increase in provision for the homeless that has been made available by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State's allocation of more money to the Housing Corporation so that further accommodation can be built for the homeless.
Will my hon. Friend give a more sympathetic response to the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) and allow a greater percentage of the capital receipts that are received by local authorities to be spent on the building of specialist accommodation, especially for single persons and the elderly, which I believe would go far towards resolving the problems of homelessness? I refer especially to the problems of Macclesfield borough council, which wishes—having abided by everything that successive Governments have asked it to do—to spend money that it has in the hank on the sort of housing that is required in the area for which it is responsible.
I know how strongly my hon. Friend feels on this issue and I respect his views, as I respect what Macclesfield council has done through its housing policy over the years. We are currently approaching the problem of providing temporary accommodation for the homeless through the extra moneys that have been given to the Housing Corporation, a programme that I hope will continue in future.