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Women Leaving Prison: Resettlement

Volume 680: debated on Tuesday 22 September 2020

I am very pleased to have spoken regularly to the hon. Lady about residential women’s centres, which are a vital part of the female offender strategy. Her question is about the resettlement of women leaving prison. I hope she is aware that we invested an additional £22 million a year over the remaining life of the community rehabilitation company contracts to deliver an enhanced through-the-gate resettlement service. We also have specific funding for women—we are putting £5 million into community services that help female offenders to address the underlying causes of their criminality—and we recently invested a further £2.5 million to assist in further supporting female offenders. That is currently being distributed via a funding competition, which opened on 6 July.

The independent monitoring board recently reported that almost 60% of female prisoners are leaving prison to homelessness, which overwhelmingly leads to reoffending. To give these women a chance in life we need an effective through-the-gate strategy, including community support and adequate housing, so can we expect the autumn statement to deliver extra resources to allow that to happen?

Our statistics are that 4.2% of the female prison releases were to rough sleeping and 14% were released as “other homeless”, but the numbers, whatever they are, are too high. The hon. Lady rightly identifies that we are talking to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and that a spending review is coming up; Members will have heard the Lord Chancellor talking about our absolute commitment, and we will be looking at a number of things—education, employment and tackling homelessness on release.