Homeless Young People — [John Robertson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 21st January 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Gilbert Stephen Gilbert Liberal Democrat, St Austell and Newquay 2:30 pm, 21st January 2015

My right hon. Friend is right. After the ring fence was removed by the previous Government, the impact was felt in Cornwall under the current Government because of the difficult decisions that they had to take to rebalance the books. Supporting People was one of the first areas of funding to be cut in Cornwall. I found myself sleeping outside county hall overnight, with a cohort of vulnerable people, in protest at that decision. I understand exactly the impact of the removal of the ring fence and the budget constraints on providing such vital services.

The point is not simply that the street is an unsafe and unsuitable place for young people. Most young people who present to statutory services as homeless do so because another strategy for coping with having no safe permanent place to live has broken down. The places young people sleep in an effort to stay off the street are often unsuitable for them as vulnerable individuals.

A third of young people Crisis spoke to during a survey admitted to committing a minor crime in the hope of being taken into custody for the night; 17% had avoided bail or committed an offence to receive custodial accommodation and therefore a bed for the night; almost 20% had attempted to admit themselves to accident and emergency departments to get a bed for the night; and, alarmingly, 10% had entered into a sexual relationship to get a bed for the night. These are not safe havens for young people: they put them in danger of further exploitation.