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Homelessness: Reading Berkshire

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people were recorded as (a) homeless and (b) rough sleepers in the Reading borough council area during the month of December in each of the last 10 years. (244435)

Information about English local authorities' actions under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level. Data collected include the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to ensure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

The question asks for figures for the month of December. The total number of households accepted as owed a main homelessness duty (‘acceptances') are collected on a quarterly basis and not broken down to a monthly level, and therefore our figures cover the period October to December. Numbers in temporary accommodation are as of 31 December for each year.

The following table lists the number of acceptances and number of households in temporary accommodation for Reading local authority, in quarter four 1998 to 2008;

Number of acceptances October-December

Households in temporary accommodation on 31 December

1998

121

388

1999

88

1—

2000

116

441

2001

105

477

2002

91

448

2003

70

339

2004

51

239

2005

69

214

2006

39

177

2007

39

144

1 Denotes data not reported by authority

Annual rough sleeping figures for Reading borough council have been collected since 1998 and are published yearly in September. The figures are based on local authority street counts.

Number of rough sleepers in Reading borough council

1998

13

1999

5

2000

9

2001

18

2002

7

2003

4

2004

6

2005

11

2006

2

2007

15

2008

6

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was allocated to Reading borough council for tackling homelessness in each of the last 10 years; and what information her Department holds on how that funding has been spent. (244437)

Revenue funding for local authority homelessness services is principally provided through revenue support grant which is unhypothecated. The Government additionally provide homelessness grants to support all local housing authorities' strategies for tackling and preventing all forms of homelessness, including rough sleeping.

The following table shows total allocations of homelessness grant to Reading borough council for each of the years from 2003-04 to 2008-09.

Homelessness grant (£)

2003-04

393,339

2004-05

250,000

2005-06

250,000

2006-07

250,000

2007-08

250,000

2008-09

1250,000

1 To date

Prior to 2003-04 funding was given direct to voluntary organisations. The Department did not provide any direct funding to voluntary organisations in Reading.

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.

Reading borough council also received £878,000 of Hostels Capital Improvement Programme funding over three years to 2007-08.

On 5 December 2007, we announced homelessness grant funding of at least £150 million over the three years 2008-11 to continue to support local authorities to tackle and prevent homelessness. This is the biggest ever cash injection for homelessness services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many rough sleepers there were in the Reading borough council area in the latest period for which figures are available. (244436)

The latest official figures published in September 2008 show six rough sleepers were found in the street count carried out by Reading borough council.