asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations his Department has received in the last 12 months about the plight of homeless households living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation; what steps his Department has taken to alleviate this problem; and what action he now proposes to take to reduce the number of homeless households and to enforce reasonable standards in such accommodation.
Such representations have focused mainly on the use of bed and breakfast accommodation, standards, length of stay, and provision of educational, health and social services. Action on such matters is largly for the local authorities concerned. My Department has, recently been involved in a number of ways, including improving the manner in which local homelessness is reflected in resource allocations to local authorities, advising them on the use of their powers. Grant-aiding relevant voluntary bodies and commissioning research into authorities' operation of the legislation. The possibility of further measures to encourage fuller use of other accommodation, reduce reliance on bed and breakfast, and improve standards in houses in multiple occupation is under constant consideration.