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Homelessness

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many of those applying as homeless in Reading have been found to be (a) homeless and (b) not in priority need of temporary accommodation in each year since 1997. (100129)

The following table sets out the number of households who were found to be eligible for assistance, homeless and not in priority need by Reading borough council in each year since 1997.

Number

1997-98

106

1998-99

110

1999-2000

78

2000-01

137

2001-02

114

2002-03

69

2003-04

84

2004-05

53

2005-06

41

Information on English local authorities' activities under homelessness legislation is collected on quarterly P1(E) housing returns from local authorities and relates to households. This covers all decisions made in respect of homelessness applications to the authority and includes those which were found to be eligible, unintentionally homeless, but not in priority need. These households are not owed a main homelessness duty by the local authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the provision of hostel bed spaces for homeless people in Reading. (100131)

We are investing over £700,000 from our Hostels Capital Improvement Programme in Reading. This money is providing supported housing for six to eight rough sleepers with drug and alcohol issues and a new 40-bed hostel for young people.

In addition, Reading have received £250,000 non-ringfenced homelessness grant from DCLG in 2006-07.

In 2003 every local authority was required to put in place a homelessness strategy to prevent homelessness and provide accommodation and support. It is for local authorities to decide how to use their homelessness grant to effectively deliver their strategies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department's street count methodology in establishing an accurate picture of the extent of street homelessness in England. (100132)

The methodology and guidance for conducting street counts was developed by the former Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions in partnership with Shelter. Independent evaluation by the National Audit Office has shown that it is the most effective method for evaluating the changing levels of people sleeping rough.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much of the £70 million for homelessness prevention services made available by her Department to local authorities in 2006-07 is designated for the provision of additional hostel bed spaces for homeless rough sleepers during periods of severe weather. (100133)

Local authorities are expected to have plans in place to ensure that there is severe weather emergency provision for rough sleepers. The cost of meeting this provision is covered by DCLG's non-ringfenced homelessness grant to each local authority.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to monitor the performance of local authorities in providing sufficient hostel bed spaces for homeless rough sleepers during periods of severe weather. (100134)

We will be writing to local authorities reminding them that they should have severe weather emergency provision plans in place for any rough sleepers.

Usually, the trigger for severe weather provision will be a forecast predicting three consecutive nights, or more, of a minimum temperature of zero degrees Celsius or lower.

It is up to local authorities how they make this provision.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homeless rough sleepers her Department’s street count has identified in Reading in each year since 2001. (100135)

The number of rough sleepers in Reading in each year since 2001 is set out in the following table. The numbers represent rough sleepers identified by single night street counts conducted by the local authority as reported on the annual Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) return.

Number

2001

18

2002

7

2003

4

2004

6

2005

11

2006

2

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding was allocated by her Department to each voluntary sector organisation helping homeless people in Reading in each of the last five years. (100136)

The Department has allocated capital funding of £165,000 in 2005-06 and £69,000 in 2006-07. The Department does not provide any direct revenue funding to voluntary sector organisations in Reading.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent to local authorities in December 2005 on hostel spaces for the accommodation of homeless rough sleepers during the winter of 2005-06. (100138)

A copy of the letter sent to local authorities in December 2005 on severe weather provision for rough sleepers has now been placed in the Library.