Homelessness and Rough Sleeping

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 15th December 2014.

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Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport) 2:30 pm, 15th December 2014

What assessment he has made of trends in the level of (a) homelessness and (b) rough sleeping.

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

Homelessness is lower now than in 27 of the last 30 years, and since this time last year we have seen a 38% decrease in the number of families in bed and breakfast for more than six weeks. This Government have supported innovation through the roll-out of No Second Night Out and StreetLink, which means that rough sleepers are being found more quickly and given the help they need to get them off the streets.

Photo of Lilian Greenwood Lilian Greenwood Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Minister’s response is astonishing. Under this Government, we have seen disproportionate cuts to the Supporting People funding, the disappearance of street outreach workers and an increase in homelessness and rough sleeping of more than a third. The number of homeless families in Nottingham has risen by a quarter in the past year alone. What assurances can the Minister give me that the proposed review of exempt accommodation to be conducted jointly by his Department and the Department for Work and Pensions will not result in this disgraceful situation becoming even worse?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

This Government are tackling homelessness using funds from welfare reform, with access to some £1 billion. I should like to make a comparison between our record and that of the previous Government. There were 136 homeless acceptances in Nottingham this year compared with 493 under the previous Administration at peak. This year, 90 households are in temporary accommodation compared with 391 under Labour, and as a consequence of this Government’s intervention, there are no people in bed and breakfast.

Photo of Stephen Mosley Stephen Mosley Conservative, City of Chester

Earlier in the autumn, my hon. Friend the Minister visited Chester to see some of the homelessness provision there. He saw some first-rate services, but he also heard that homeless people were leaving other council areas, including Liverpool and Wrexham, to come to Chester to take advantage of our services. What will he do to ensure that Labour councils fulfil their obligations in the same way as Tory ones do?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I recognise the caring work undertaken by my hon. Friend’s Conservative-led council to look after those vulnerable people. It is not appropriate for local authorities, of whatever political badge, to bus people from one authority area to another.

Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

Last year, the then Housing Minister, Mr Prisk, said:

“There is absolutely no excuse for families to be sent miles away without proper regard for their circumstances…The law is clear: councils have a responsibility to take into account people’s jobs and schools when securing homes for those in need.”

Why, then, has the number of families being housed outside their local area increased by almost one third in this past year alone, and what is the Minister going to do about it?

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

I reiterate that it is against the law for councils to move numbers of individuals wholesale to other authorities, but I would point out that 14,220 out- of-district placements, equating to 93% of the total, took place in London local authorities.