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Volume 640: debated on Monday 30 April 2018

Tackling homelessness is a key priority for this Government, which is why we are spending over £1.2 billion through to 2020, we have implemented the most ambitious legislative reform in decades—the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 —and we will be publishing our rough sleeping strategy by July this year.

I welcome the Minister’s response and the update on the Government’s work. Will she update the House on the progress of the “Housing First” pilots?

The pilots will support some of the most entrenched rough sleepers in our society to end their homelessness. We are nearing the end of a detailed implementation and planning process with the three regions, and I look forward to updating the House further in due course.

The Homelessness Reduction Act came into force this month, but many councils have raised concerns that the new burdens funding that the Government have allocated is simply not sufficient for the full implementation of the Act. The Secretary of State is new in his post, but the causes of homelessness under this Government are not going away, so may I urge him to take an early look at the Government’s decision to review the funding only at the end of the current two-year period?

I thank the hon. Lady for that rant. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that she might be—what is the word we are looking for? [Interruption.] Some of the most important parts of the Act will be implemented in October, so councils have six months to get their places in order.

We probably will not reach the end of the Order Paper and it would be sad to be deprived of the intellect and eloquence of the right hon. Member for Harlow (Robert Halfon), so if he wishes to come in now, he can.

20. My hon. Friend the Minister will be aware of the excellent homeless shelter in Harlow called Streets2Homes. What measures is she taking to support local homeless shelters? (905045)

Homeless shelters will form part of the rough sleeping strategy we are bringing out at the end of June or the beginning of July. We expect there to be a sea change in how all the different parts of the social sector, the charitable sector and local government deal with rough sleeping and homelessness. I think my right hon. Friend will enjoy reading the rough sleeping strategy.

On behalf of the Scottish National party, I pay tribute to Michael Martin. He was the MP for Dennistoun, where I lived, and I pass on my own and my party’s condolences to his friends and family and to the Glasgow Labour family, who will miss him very much.

I welcome the Secretary of State back to the Government. He is the third Secretary of State I have faced, which I am sure everyone will agree is a clear sign of a strong and stable Government.

Homelessness is soaring in England, but in Scotland there has been a 38% reduction over the past 10 years. The Minister recently visited Glasgow to discuss some of the projects happening in the city I represent. Will she tell the House a little more about what she learned on her visit?

That is a very useful question—a fiver is in the post. One of the reasons I went up to Glasgow is that, although homelessness and rough sleeping had been reducing for four years, there has been a blip and Glasgow and other areas were not sure why there has been an increase in rough sleeping, particularly in Glasgow. I was hugely impressed by the work being done on rough sleeping by the charitable sector and Glasgow City Council, particularly in implementing their own version of Housing First. Glasgow City Council and the charities are doing very innovative work.

I thank the Minister for her kind words. I am sure the sector in Glasgow will be pleased to hear what she has learned.

Another group who struggle to get housing and therefore end up in homelessness are those with insecure immigration status, who often have no recourse to public funds. Can the Minister tell us more about what her Government intend to do to ensure that vulnerable men and women do not end up sleeping in the streets because of the policies of the Home Office?

The situation differs slightly in different parts of the UK. There is Government funding for projects in England that look after people who have indeterminate national status. I honestly do not know whether the situation in Scotland is a UK matter or a Scottish matter. I will have to write to the hon. Lady on that issue.