Homeless Young People — [John Robertson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:48 pm on 21st January 2015.

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Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 3:48 pm, 21st January 2015

I have already written to local authorities regarding B and B accommodation. I will continue to do so—not only about B and Bs, but about the standard of accommodation that is out there. When people use public moneys, particularly for private accommodation, I expect them to make sure that the standard of housing is appropriate.

I want to read out some of the points relating to the review, for the simple reason that I chair a joint ministerial group, and we will publish a report shortly and call for evidence from lots of different organisations. There is an opportunity for that review and report to be brought together, so the next Government—of whichever kind, and I hope they are a Conservative majority Government —have a powerful piece of evidence. As my hon. Friend Sarah Newton said, it is important to gather evidence to make determinations about how we spend our resource. The report will provide a substantial amount of evidence based on which a future Government can make choices.

We have recently announced the £8 million “Help for Single Homeless” fund. Thirty-four local authority partnerships have received that money, which will support some 22,000 people. The issue of complex needs was raised by several Members. We are working with Crisis and have provided it with some £14 million. With the support of its access to the private rented sector in particular, we hope to help some 10,000 single homeless people address and sustain private rented accommodation by 2016, and to help an impressive 90% of those sustain that accommodation for more than six months. It is important to ensure that people have a certain period of time in accommodation, not just a few weeks, so that it becomes a home. It is important that we put money into that.

The work of StreetLink has been recognised. It is an extremely powerful tool that every citizen can contribute to, and it has now helped more than 21,000 rough sleepers. My hon. Friend Jake Berry mentioned the issue of people walking on the other side of the street and ignoring the individual concerned. My experience is that some people do not know what to do to help them, and now they have a tool to do so. If they see somebody and want to intervene, they can, and a local resource will be used to ensure that people do not spend a second night out there. That is a really important way for the citizen to participate.

I have lots more statistics here, but Members raised some really important points, and I want to go through them quickly. I would appreciate it if Paul Blomfield dropped me a note about the guy who could not read, and I would like to challenge colleagues on that. I know that Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions have made some changes in the rules relating to sanctions, but I meet Ministers from that Department frequently, and I would like to take those examples, challenge what is going on and make sure that we get the system right and appropriate.

On the point about local authorities’ work being variable, some excellent authorities are doing some great work, but some are placing individuals in accommodation that is not appropriate. There is a gold standard, and we have put £2.3 million into ensuring that there are decent homes. If a local authority is not placing people in appropriate accommodation, we will challenge it.

I want to challenge some of the figures that my friend Simon Danczuk—he is a friend—gave.