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Rough Sleeping

Volume 622: debated on Monday 27 February 2017

We are investing nearly £250,000 in Colchester and Tendring to identify those at risk of rough sleeping and support them into accommodation. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Will Quince) for the role he played in the Homelessness Reduction Bill and join in his tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman).

I thank the Minister for that response. May I pay tribute to the work of my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman), whose Homelessness Reduction Bill will play such a large part in tackling homelessness? As the Minister said, from having sat on that Bill Committee and seen cross-party working in action, does he agree with me that it is by taking party politics out of this issue and working on a cross-party basis that we will tackle homelessness?

My hon. Friend is right, and the Secretary of State said exactly that earlier in our questions. There is a real need not just to invest more money in this crucial area, but also to change the law, to ensure both that we have a full safety net and that we intervene earlier to prevent people from becoming homeless, rather than just at the point of crisis.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the work that Chelmsford City Council is doing to tackle the totally unacceptable problem of rough sleeping in Chelmsford is both innovative and positive?

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend. I thank him for his personal commitment to this issue and say to him that the work that Chelmsford is doing is being supported by nearly £1 million from the £50 million that the Secretary of State referred to.

If the Department for Work and Pensions cuts housing support, that immediately adds to homelessness pressures for the Department for Communities and Local Government. Does the Minister think that the DWP should go ahead with cuts to housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds in a month’s time, and if not, is he making representations to his colleagues in other Departments to stop it?

This Government have increased discretionary housing payment to £870 million across this Parliament; that is a 55% increase, and thus far 60% of—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady says it is nowhere near enough; 60% of local councils have not taken up their full allocation.