Prisoners' Release: Homelessness

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 23rd April 2021.

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Photo of Andrea Jenkyns Andrea Jenkyns Conservative, Morley and Outwood

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to reduce homelessness amongst people leaving prison.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

On 29th January, we announced a £70m investment programme to provide stable accommodation for prison leavers. The investment will bring together the work of Approved Premises (AP) and the Bail Accommodation and Support Service (BASS) with a new tier of provision for prison leavers at risk of homelessness. This new accommodation service will provide up to 12 weeks of basic temporary accommodation for prison leavers who would otherwise be homeless.

The service will launch in five of the 12 probation regions in England and Wales, namely the East of England, Yorkshire and the Humber, Greater Manchester, Kent Surrey and Sussex, and the North West. All individuals aged 18 and over, either released from prison or moving on from APs or BASS, into those five regions who are at risk of homelessness, will be eligible. HMPPS will work in conjunction with MHCLG’s announced funding to support prison leavers at risk of homelessness into private rental tenancies as part of plans to secure settled accommodation by the end of the 12-week period.

It is anticipated that the new intervention will commence in Summer 2021 and will provide support for approximately 3,000 service users. It will be in operation during the 2021-22 financial year, with a view to scaling up and rolling out nationally, though the Spending Review 2021 will set out the approach for future years.

We are introducing and testing a new specialist housing advisor role in up to twenty prisons, including HMP Leeds. The new role will seek to strengthen links between prisons, through the gate teams and local authorities to improve accommodation outcomes for those at risk of homelessness.

The recently published Target Operating model for the unified probation service includes information regarding the future performance framework for probation, including a target on the number of individuals being housed on release from custody (90%), together with a measure relating to settled accommodation for all people under supervision (those released from prison and those on community sentences); this will assess the status three months after commencement of supervision (80%).

In preparation for the launch of the new unified probation service, MoJ have published a policy framework in support of the Homelessness Reduction Act (2017) Duty to Refer process, which will mandate the roles and responsibilities of both prison and probation staff in making effective referrals.

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