Homeless Young People — [John Robertson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:06 pm on 21st January 2015.

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Photo of Sarah Newton Sarah Newton Conservative, Truro and Falmouth 3:06 pm, 21st January 2015

Speaking from personal experience in my constituency, I can absolutely say yes. Now we have the tools to go out there and try to get as accurate a count as we can. We will then have a far better understanding of the underlying reasons why people—we are talking not just about numbers, but about people’s lives—are homeless so that we can put in place the appropriate services to help them into accommodation. The money follows the problem, and having those tools has brought extra resources into my constituency. It is vital that we carry on gathering data so that we can better plan to meet the needs of people who are currently homeless and prevent more people from becoming homeless.

The other recommendation from Crisis I would like the Minister seriously to consider is that we go back to local authorities to see how well the legislation we created in this place is implemented. A key finding of the Crisis report was that the legislation was not implemented consistently. Contained within that was another recommendation—that we come up with an inspection regime. We have done that very well with the Care Quality Commission, which we have asked to inspect providers of health and social care services. Given that a decent home is essential for people’s health and well-being, it would be a good idea to think about how we can extend the CQC’s remit so that it can inspect providers of housing for vulnerable groups and the sorts of accommodation we have heard about today, which take people off the street, providing accommodation that is often supervised in some way, as well as a package of care for a couple of years. That would be really good.

Associated with that, I would like it to become common practice for people in councils and organisations responsible for preventing homelessness and supporting homeless people to be part of health and wellbeing boards, because decent housing is important to health and well-being. Some local authorities have included such people on their health and wellbeing boards, but that is not common practice. Including people on those boards will really help those providing joined-up services locally to understand the complexity of the issues confronting people who face the prospect of homelessness or who are experiencing homelessness. It will also enable those providing services—whether social, housing or health services—to better meet the needs of the particularly vulnerable group we have been discussing.

I know that colleagues want to speak, so let me conclude by saying that the Government have made huge progress, and I have seen that in my constituency. However, I urge the Minister to take seriously the recommendations made by Crisis, which it presented in a non-party political way. We can then take them forward, review what is working, understand what is not working and bring in necessary reforms in the next Parliament.