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Volume 620: debated on Tuesday 24 January 2017

It is vital for us to reduce the £15 billion cost of reoffending, and all the misery that it causes in our society. We must therefore ensure that offenders enter employment when they leave prison, and as a result of our new standards governors will be held to account for that.

My private Member’s Bill, which is intended to reduce homelessness, will return to the House on Friday. One of its key provisions is a duty for the Prison Service to help people who are leaving prison to find stable homes. What measures can my right hon. Friend take to ensure that prison governors use the four two-hour workshops to prepare prisoners for a life outside prison?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Finding suitable housing, like getting a job, is very important to reducing reoffending. We will therefore measure housing rates as well as employment rates, and prison governors will be held accountable for how well they do in helping offenders to obtain housing.

16. It is commonly understood that once people have been in prison they have paid their debts to society, and contributing to society, especially through work, is a key part of rehabilitation. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the declaration of a criminal record at the very beginning of a job application creates an unnecessary barrier to work? (908354)

I entirely agree that it is important for us to help people to find work. I support the Ban the Box initiative, and we are exploring options for its promotion. Later this year we will publish our employment strategy. We want to encourage more employers like Halfords, Greggs and DHL, which already work with ex-offenders, to become involved. Once they have jobs, ex-offenders often prove to be loyal and effective employees.