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Rough Sleeping

Volume 651: debated on Monday 10 December 2018

The rough sleeping initiative has allocated £30 million to 83 local authorities, which are working to deliver 500 additional support workers and 1,750 extra bed spaces to support people off the street. The Government have also made available a £5 million cold weather fund for all areas to provide additional support this winter.

I thank the Minister for his answer. I wonder whether he could answer me a simple question. I would appreciate a one-word answer, as I am sure Mr Speaker will. The rough sleeping headcount in Birmingham took place last week. The figures are yet to be revealed. Does the Minister think that they will have gone up or down?

I am not going to predict, because—[Interruption.] I am sorry to disappoint the hon. Lady. I want to see the figures coming down, because it is about helping people off the street and changing their lives. No one chooses to be out on the street. That is why we are taking all the action that we are.

What is the Government’s estimate of the proportion of those sleeping rough who are not addicted to drugs, including alcohol?

We recognise that there is a significant issue with what is known as dual diagnosis of mental ill health and alcohol addiction and how the two are intertwined, along with the use of novel psychoactive substances, which has compounded the issue. That is why we have asked the national health service to provide an additional £30 million to address those issues and get better data on them.

There cannot be a Member in this House who has failed to notice the exponential rise in people sleeping on our streets, and not just in cities such as London, but in places such as Dewsbury, which I represent. Will the Secretary of State tell us what progress has been made on the Government pledge to end homelessness?

It is our intent to see rough sleeping ended. I highlighted in my earlier answer the additional beds, the additional workers and the funding support that has been put in place, because it is about progress over the next few years, but also action now, which is what the rough sleeping initiative is all about: saving lives and seeing more people come off the street.