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Homelessness

Volume 519: debated on Thursday 25 November 2010

The Government are committed to tackling and preventing homelessness. We have established a cross-departmental working group on homelessness, taking in eight Departments, and the homelessness grant has been fully protected at £400 million.

Does my right hon. Friend believe that the Government could learn lessons from the recent successful scheme by the charity Broadway, which got a number of long-term homeless people off the streets and into their own accommodation at an average cost of £794, compared with the many thousands of pounds spent on them while they are on the streets?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Broadway scheme is excellent and innovative. It has taken funding and allowed the people who are involved with homelessness provision and the service users to decide how best to use it. I congratulate Broadway, which has managed to get a lot more done for £794, rather than the average of £3,000. It is an excellent scheme from which others can learn.

Will the Minister confirm whether now or in the future he plans to reduce homelessness by changing either its definition or the categories of people who are entitled to assistance and re-housing because they are homeless?

We have no plans whatever to change the categories of reasonable preference—those categories that councils have to take into account in order to state whether somebody is homeless and, therefore, provide statutory help. We have already changed the terms—the measurement—of homelessness as defined by rough sleeping, which, under the hon. Gentleman’s Government, meant that there were only 440 people sleeping rough on the country’s streets. We discovered very quickly, once we had counted such people properly, that there are actually 1,294.