Skip to main content


Volume 613: debated on Monday 18 July 2016

3. What assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing legislative proposals to extend local authorities' duty of care in homelessness cases. (905885)

We are committed to putting prevention at the heart of our approach to homelessness. We have committed £315 million to local authority homelessness prevention funding and will work with local authorities, charities and Departments to consider further reforms, including legislation.

I thank the Minister for that reply, but Bristol City Council’s budget for preventing homelessness was cut by 20% between 2011 and 2015. What extra funding will the Government make available to local authorities such as Bristol, which has experienced a significant recent rise in homelessness, to cope with the scale of the problem—particularly if their duty of care is extended under the metro mayor model?

Homelessness acceptances remain less than half what they were under the peak of the Labour Government in 2003-04. That said, one person without a home is one too many. Last year, we provided Bristol with £1 million of homelessness prevention funding, which will be maintained each year across this Parliament. I know that Bristol is starting to do some innovative things in homelessness prevention, and I would very much like to meet the Mayor of Bristol to discuss both the work that is being done on rough sleeping and the task and finish group, which I know has been set up.

Given the provisions of the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015, a piece of legislation for which I have a certain affection, will the Secretary of State look at the work of the Community Self Build Agency, which is allowing vulnerable groups, such as the unemployed, the disabled and others, including homeless veterans, to obtain a place of their own and to stop being homeless?

I had great enjoyment on the Housing and Planning Bill Committee, where my hon. Friend made considerable representation on behalf of people involved in self-build. It is certainly an important area, and one in which the new Minister for Housing and Planning, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Gavin Barwell), is interested, and he would certainly be keen to meet my hon. Friend to discuss that further.

Homelessness in Scotland has fallen since the abolition of priority need in homelessness legislation. Given the rise in homelessness in England, might the Minister consider that?

We are certainly keen to listen to what is going on in other parts of the Union, but we do need to acknowledge that the housing market in Scotland is different from that in England, and particularly from that in London. I am always keen to hear what we are doing in other parts of the UK so that we can improve the way in which we deal with homelessness prevention.

I thank the Minister for his answer. Part of the difference in Scotland is that we abolished the right to buy, thereby allowing housing stock to be maintained. Will he also look at Wales, which has seen a reduction in homelessness, too? Its interesting practice of early intervention is helping to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.

We are certainly looking at what has happened in Wales and at the way in which the legislation has been changed. It is extremely important that we assess the effectiveness of those changes. Those changes have only just been introduced, and we are looking carefully at their impact, but we need to look at not just one or two quarters of figures but a longer term picture to ensure that the changes in Wales would correlate to and work with the English system. I hear what the hon. Lady says on the right to buy, but people should have the opportunity to own their own home, and this Government are absolutely committed to that.