Prison Leavers: Accommodation

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

What support his Department provides to help prison leavers secure appropriate accommodation on release.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I absolutely agree with the hon. Lady that finding accommodation for prisoners at the end of their sentence is vital. That is why we have already started pilots to help offenders released from three prisons—Bristol, Pentonville and Leeds—to secure and maintain accommodation, with £6.4 million from the Government’s rough sleeping strategy.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

My hon. Friend Louise Haigh mentioned today’s report which says that young offenders are being set up to fail when they are released. One concern raised in the report is about the quality of unregulated supported living, which is a real concern in Bristol. May I urge the Minister to talk to her counterparts in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to see how we can regulate supported housing?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The hon. Lady makes an interesting point. I would like to assure her that we do liaise with MHCLG. In fact, on Thursday I am going with my counterpart from MHCLG to visit one of the pilots in Leeds, and I will raise that point with him.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Conservative, Aylesbury

I welcome what my hon. and learned Friend has said about the pilot projects now under way and wish them success. Since up to 30%, by some estimates, of people sleeping rough on the streets have a prison record, does she agree that one of the best ways to secure a reduction in reoffending is to step up these schemes and ensure that when someone has served their time, they have a roof over their heads on release?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I agree very much with my experienced right hon. Friend, from whom I learned so much as his Parliamentary Private Secretary. He is absolutely right about accommodation. We are looking at the pilots. We are also trying to expand the approved premises estate by an extra 200 beds. Accommodation is a critical matter, and we are looking hard into it.