Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th June 2018.
What recent assessment he has made of trends in the level of homelessness.
The Government believe that one person without a home is one too many, which is why we have committed £1.2 billion to tackle homelessness and why we implemented the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 in April. We are producing a cross-Government strategy to tackle rough sleeping, and it is due to be published next month.
In December 2010, there were 22 homeless households in temporary accommodation in Coventry; in December last year, there was a massive 278 homeless households in the city, of which 210 were families with children, with a total of 505 children between them. Why does the Secretary of State think that the number of homeless children has risen so significantly under this Government?
I hope the hon. Lady will recognise the work that the Government have done and are doing with the commitment of £9 billion for affordable housing. This is partly an issue of supply and ensuring that we have the right number of homes, which is why the Government are taking action, investing and seeking to respond to the challenges of homelessness and, indeed, rough sleeping. I hope that the hon. Lady welcomes the Housing First initiative in the west midlands to tackle rough sleeping and ensure that we really respond to this important issue.
A recent Crisis report set out a comprehensive and practical plan for ending homelessness. On top of the excellent plans that the Secretary of State has already announced, I encourage him to work with Crisis so that we can tackle not only homelessness but its underlying causes.
I congratulate Crisis on its work, as it marks its 50th anniversary. Indeed, I spoke at the recent Crisis conference, where I indicated that I will work with the organisation on furthering its rough-sleeping initiatives, about which I have spoken. I note what it has said about homelessness and will continue to work with it and others.
There are many trends from the 1990s that I would like to bring back to this country—for example, decent indie music—but rough sleeping is not one of them. I pay tribute to the Forest emergency night shelter in Waltham Forest, which helped 109 people in just one borough this past winter. The truth is, though, that the problem continues, and tonight approximately 40 people will sleep rough in a graveyard in Walthamstow. I invite the Secretary of State to come with me to meet those people to understand how he can finally get a grip of this situation and get a roof over their heads.
The hon. Lady rightly speaks passionately about roughly sleeping. I feel very strongly about it, too, which was why my first visit as Secretary of State was to a homelessness charity in Birmingham that was actively supporting people who were rough sleeping. That is why the Government are committed to eradicating rough sleeping and why, in recent weeks, we have committed a further £30 million to those areas most affected. It is a very serious issue and the hon. Lady is right to be passionate about it, as am I.
I welcome last week’s news that there will be £279,000 extra for tackling homelessness and rough sleeping in Torbay. Will the Secretary of State reassure me that the lessons from the previous pilot, which was carried out with the Torbay End Street Homelessness campaign, will be incorporated into the strategy that he is bringing out next month?
I commend the work that my hon. Friend’s local charities have done, along with all the organisations that are working locally in Torbay on this significant issue. Obviously, additional funding has been identified. Part of the issue is to ensure that that money is used effectively by learning from previous lessons and, indeed, by ensuring that local authorities are held to account for the moneys that have been applied.