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Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 18 June 2003

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How many homeless households have been accommodated in bed-and-breakfast hostels since 1997. [119757]

I have placed in the Library a table detailing the number of homeless households accommodated in bed-and-breakfast hotels since 1997. The number increased from an average of about 4,400 in 1997 to more than 13,000 by the end of September 2002. That is plainly unsatisfactory and we have been taking action to address the issue, especially where it affects children. I am pleased to say that figures published yesterday show a fall in the number of such households to 12,200 in March this year. Importantly, the number of families with children in bed-and-breakfast accommodation has been reduced even more significantly, by almost 30 per cent. over the past year.

I shall certainly look at those figures. It is nice to hear a Minister admit that something has gone wrong. Why does he think that it has gone wrong so dramatically?

There are a variety of reasons, including such sadnesses as family break-up and evictions, and the general increase in house prices. The Government are committed to dealing with these things and we are investing new funds in social housing to eradicate the scourge of homelessness in our society.