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Homeless People

Volume 597: debated on Monday 29 June 2015

3. What steps he is taking to ensure that local councils provide adequate support and assistance to single homeless people when they approach their council for help. (900597)

By law, local authorities have a duty to provide advice and information to anyone asking for help. To help them discharge that important duty we have, among other sources of support, funded the National Homelessness Advice Service supporting frontline staff, together with the Help for Single Homeless funding, helping 22,000 people across England by April 2016.

Housing is a big issue in my crowded city of Portsmouth and figures show that the number of people in priority-need has increased over recent years. What steps has the Minister taken to ensure that there is good advice and assistance to the homeless?

I thank my hon. Friend for her question. I know that she took a keen interest in this issue before she entered the House. We provided more than £500,000 in homelessness prevention grant funding to Portsmouth Council back in 2013-14, and the council was able to use it to prevent 1,021 households from becoming homeless. We are providing a further £550,000 to Portsmouth for the same purpose this year. I am certainly not complacent, however, and I can assure my hon. Friend that I want to work with local authorities to build on best practice. I shall also be meeting representatives of Crisis next month to discuss what more can be done to improve services for homeless people.

Does the Minister agree that the best way for the Government to help councils to help homeless people is to ensure that councils can build more council houses?

I am aware that councils can build council housing. That is quite an interesting question, because more council houses were built during the past five years of the coalition Government than during the previous 13 years under Labour.