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Homelessness: Young People

Volume 476: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what recent steps the Government have taken to reduce youth homelessness; (206523)

(2) what recent steps the Government have taken to work with schools to prevent youth homelessness.

In November 2006, my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State announced a package of measures to further prevent and tackle youth homelessness. This included: a commitment that by 2010, no 16 or 17 year olds should be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation by a local authority under the homelessness legislation, except in an emergency; improving access to family mediation; and establishing supported lodgings schemes for young people across the country. Since then significant progress has been made:

6390 young people were accepted as homeless in 2006-07 (young people are 16-17 year olds, or 18-20 year old care leavers). This is down from 8350 in 2005-06.

Around 530 16 and 17 year olds were placed in bed and breakfast by housing authorities at the end of December 2008, down from around 1000 in September 2006.

We have provided significant investment for homelessness prevention. This includes £200 million homelessness grant funding for local authorities and the voluntary sector over the next three years. This represents the biggest ever cash injection for homelessness services. We are aware that some local authorities will use their grant to target schools making pupils aware of the impact of homelessness, For example, the London borough of Lambeth will be using some of their homelessness grant towards the establishment of an educational trust to develop their innovative, young people led homelessness prevention resource, entitled ‘The Prodigals’ into a national preventative programme.

We established the National Youth Homelessness scheme (NYHS) jointly led by Centrepoint and YMCA England. NYHS, has established nine regional centres of excellence to offer practical examples to neighbouring authorities of effective service models, and a website and knowledge base to offer accessible information and practical initiatives on preventing and tackling youth homelessness.

Through this Department's specialist advisers on youth homelessness, NYHS has supported local authorities to achieve these reductions in homelessness acceptances amongst young people and the use of bed and breakfast accommodation via four workstreams: local authority strategy and partnership; homelessness prevention; accommodation and support pathways; and addressing wider needs.

On 9 May 2008, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Children, Schools and Families launched good practice guidance on joint working between housing authorities and children's services to prevent and respond to homelessness and the wider support needs of young people.