Rough Sleeping: West Midlands

Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 2018.

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Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North 12:00 am, 12th March 2018

What recent estimate he has made of the number of people sleeping rough in the west midlands.

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The number of evening rough sleepers in the west midlands has increased by eight people over the year from 2016 to 2017.

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

I have the figures, sir; please do not disagree with me. We have committed to providing £28 million of funding to pilot a Housing First approach in three major regions, including that of the West Midlands combined authority. I look forward very much to working with Mayor Street.

Photo of Ian Austin Ian Austin Labour, Dudley North

Anybody in the west midlands who hears the Minister say that the number of rough sleepers has increased by only eight will be absolutely staggered at this Government’s complacency. The fact is that rough sleeping has soared, not just in Birmingham but even in towns such as Dudley, where, tragically, a homeless man died in a tent in the past few weeks. The Mayor’s policy will not result in rough sleeping being abolished until 2027. We need a much more urgent approach. Are Ministers prepared to fund an expansion of Birmingham City Council and the Labour police and crime commissioner’s street intervention teams, which have helped hundreds of people over the past few months?

Photo of Heather Wheeler Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

That was a really good question. Intelligent questions in this Chamber are helpful, because they mean we can give intelligent answers. The intelligent answer is that the Housing First project is about wraparound care, with £28 million of public money going to help to solve this desperate problem. The advisory panel is meeting for the third time in two weeks’ time and the taskforce has already met. This is an urgent matter for the Government and it will be solved.