I should like to begin by paying tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East (Bob Blackman) for his work on the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. With the agreement of colleagues from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Act should come into operation in April. It is absolutely vital that every prisoner leaving custody has a home to go to.
I thank my hon. Friend and welcome him to his new position. As he rightly says, it is in our best interest that ex-offenders leaving prison do not reoffend. One of the key issues is to ensure that prison governors honour their commitment under the Homelessness Reduction Act to ensure that people are prepared for life outside prison. What action will he take to ensure that prison governors train offenders who are due to leave prison so that they do not reoffend?
There are two key things to do: first, to empower governors so that they have real flexibility and control over education budgets and career advice; and, secondly, to connect that to housing. There is an obligation under the Act that my hon. Friend has championed, and co-ordination with local authorities will be essential.
There are a number of complex issues relating to homelessness, but we absolutely agree that this is unacceptable and shocking. We need to work much more closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, with local authorities and with prisons to ensure that we cut those numbers.