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House of Commons Hansard
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23 July 2018
Volume 645
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1. What steps his Department is taking to reduce homelessness. [906570]

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Tackling homelessness is a key Government priority, and we are spending more than £1.2 billion through to 2020, including committing more than £2 million of funding to Torbay. We are also committing a further £279,000 this year through the rough sleeping initiative. We will announce more on the rough sleeping strategy shortly.

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I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Work supported by his Department to look at ways to end street homelessness has produced a recommendation that Torbay should adopt a Housing First approach. Is he happy to meet me to discuss whether Torbay could be the next pilot area for such an approach, which has already happened in three major urban areas?

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I am sure the Minister for homelessness, my hon. Friend the Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams), would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss the matter further, but, as he highlights, the Government are supportive of the Housing First approach and are investing £28 million in a large-scale pilot in three main regions of England.

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Latest departmental figures show that 6% of rough sleepers in London are aged between 18 and 25 and that more than 120,000 children are living in temporary accommodation in England. Young people are suffering as a result of the Tory housing crisis. Why does the Secretary of State think that the number of homeless children fell under Labour, but has risen under the Tories?

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This Government are committed to tackling homelessness. That is why we have committed £1.2 billion to do so, pledged to end rough sleeping by 2027 and changed the law so that councils can place families in private rented accommodation. That is action by this Government to deal with this important issue.

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I very much welcome the £28 million to trial or pilot Housing First and the £192,000 to my local authority for a micro-Housing First project. Given that we know this approach works, in particular for rough sleepers with very complex needs, what steps can my right hon. Friend take to accelerate the roll-out across the United Kingdom?

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I commend my hon. Friend for his work on the all-party parliamentary group for this important issue. As he highlights, we are piloting in three areas, but we are reflecting carefully on the issue of complexity and the challenges that those who are rough sleeping face in getting accommodation, and we will propose further measures as we bring forward our rough sleeping strategy.

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The Secretary of State has to do so much more, especially on the rough sleeping crisis. We see that in particular in the warmer weather, and it is very visible in all our cities, including in Nottingham city centre. The issue is particularly related to the massive fall in the number of mental health overnight beds, with 6,000 fewer than in 2010. Will he give a commitment to speak about this with his opposite number at the Department of Health and Social Care?

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The hon. Gentleman will welcome the £420,000 committed to Nottingham through the rough sleeping initiative, which underlines the practical steps we are taking, including the £30 million that has been committed. We will bring forward further proposals through the rough sleeping strategy. He is right that this is an important issue: this Government take it seriously, and I take it seriously personally. That is why my first visit as Secretary of State was to a rough sleeping charity to see the work it is doing. We will be coming forward with more work.

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My right hon. Friend’s immediate predecessor was very familiar with the work being undertaken by the Mayor of the West Midlands to eliminate rough sleeping and homelessness. Will my right hon. Friend pick up the reins and visit Andy Street to see what the west midlands is doing on that?

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That first visit that I referred to was to the west midlands, where I met Andy Street to see some of the very good practical work taking place in Birmingham, and I commend that work. Equally, I commend some of the work we are doing around the west midlands through the Housing First pilots.

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Shelter England said this morning that 33,000 people living in temporary accommodation in England are in work, which is up 73% since 2013. Shelter believes that that is down to expensive private lets, the housing benefit freeze and a chronic lack of social housing. How does the Secretary of State respond to that?

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I agree with the hon. Lady that everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, and we are providing more than £1.2 billion so that all those left homeless get the support they need, but the broader issue she raises on social and affordable housing is germane. That is why the Government have increased the funding around that. There is now up to £9 billion to deal with affordable homes.

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The Secretary of State missed the point entirely, which was about people who are working but unable to afford accommodation and a roof over their head. Is it not the case that under this Government work no longer pays?

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No. As I have already highlighted, I recognise the issues of supply and of affordability. That is why we have invested more heavily in this and, indeed, given councils additional borrowing flexibilities of about £1 billion in England. Yes, of course, we recognise the challenge, and that is why this Government are responding.