To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP/Young Offenders Institute Bronzefield, published in November 2021; in particular, the finding that 77 per cent of women prisoners faced homelessness on release; and what plans they have to establish a funded pathway that ensures women leaving prison have access to safe and secure accommodation.
We appreciate the work of the Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) and welcome the scrutiny they provide, including the findings of this report on HMP & YOI Bronzefield. Their findings regarding accommodation for female prison leavers reflect the specific challenges women face in securing suitable accommodation.
Our Prisons Strategy White Paper sets out our vision that no-one subject to probation supervision is released from prison homeless.
To achieve this, HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) launched a new transitional accommodation service providing up to 12 weeks' accommodation and support for those leaving prison at risk of homelessness. The service was initially launched last July in five probation areas in England, including in Kent Surrey and Sussex. From 2024-5, we will invest £200m per year to transform our approach to rehabilitation. This includes expanding the transitional accommodation service across England and Wales to support the thousands of people who leave prison each year without accommodation, as announced in the Prison Strategy White Paper published in December 2021.
The transitional accommodation takes account of the needs of women, including those with complex needs, with accommodation provision dedicated to single gender usage as required.
HMPPS has also introduced Housing Specialists in twenty prisons, including HMP Bronzefield, to support prisons to be more strategic in their response to reducing homelessness, including working in partnership with Probation teams and Local Authorities to develop accommodation pathways on release from prison. Our White Paper outlines our commitment to increase the number of Housing Specialists to 48 across England and Wales, including within the female estate.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched their Accommodation for Ex-Offenders (AFEO) scheme on 28 July 2021 to support offenders at risk of homelessness into private rental tenancies. Overall, this financial year, £13 million has been allocated to 87 schemes across 145 local authorities. Combined with our temporary accommodation service, this builds a pathway from prison to settled accommodation.