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19 Jun 2003 : Column 418W—continued

Bed and Breakfast

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many Castle Point families were housed in bed and breakfasts (a) in each of the last five years for which figures exist and (b) on 1 April 2003. [117996]

Yvette Cooper: Information reported by Castle Point District Council to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on the numbers of homeless households housed by the authority in bed and breakfast (including any hotel annexe accommodation where some or all basic facilities are shared) is as follows:

Castle Point DC: Homeless households in bed and breakfast at end of quarter


n/r = not reported.


Figures include households accommodated pending completion of inquiries by the local authority.


ODPM P1(E) housing returns (quarterly)

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Last year the Government announced a new commitment to ensure that by March 2004 no family with children will be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation other than in an emergency, and even then for no more than six weeks. Corresponding information has been collected since March 2002, as part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's monitoring of authorities' progress towards this target.

Castle Point DC: Homeless households with dependent children or an expectant mother in bed and breakfast at end of month

NumberOf which: resident more than six weeks
March16not collected
June18not collected
September15not collected


ODPM quarterly P1E returns; monthly monitoring returns (since October)

Departmental Website

Dr. Cable: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what actions he has taken or is taking to ensure that the websites of his Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies are accessible to partially sighted and blind people; and if he will make a statement. [117351]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's web site ( follows the Office of the e-Envoy's Guidelines for United Kingdom Government web sites to provide an accessible web site for partially sighted and blind people.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will soon be replacing its web site. The new site has been developed based on the Office of the e-Envoy's Guidelines but it has also been designed to take into consideration the way screen readers work by conducting rigorous screen reader testing using JAWS for Windows software. It has improved accessibility for partially sighted and blind people through the use of the access key system throughout the site on the most commonly used links. It has been rigorously tested so that the HTML conforms to the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative's AA standard. In addition, the site has been tested using the BOBBY analysing application, a well-known test of accessibility.

Agencies and non-departmental bodies are encouraged to follow the Government guidelines.

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Margaret Moran: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to include e-participation in future e-voting pilots. [119614]

Phil Hope: Working with the Electoral Commission, the Office of the e-Envoy and local authorities, our aim is to develop a wide range of e-democracy initiatives, both e-voting and e-participation. We are seeking how best at local level differing initiatives may be integrated both to engage and to better inform voters while maintaining the integrity and security of the ballot.

For e-participation we are providing £2 million of pump-priming funding as part of our e-democracy national project, inviting bids from local authorities, and we will be pursuing e-voting in the light of the Electoral Commission's evaluation of the May 2003 pilots.


Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions his Department has had with representatives of the statutory undertakers about graffiti on their street furniture or other property; and if he will make a statement. [118090]

Mr. Raynsford: The Home Office and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have lead responsibility on preventing and tackling graffiti. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is working closely with DEFRA and the Home Office to ensure effective co-ordination of our policies in this area and decide what further action may need to be taken.

Housing (Young People)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what advice he provides on obtaining housing for young people in housing need; and if he will make a statement. [113563]

Keith Hill: Under the homelessness legislation local authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance about homelessness and the prevention of homelessness. This service must be available free of charge to anyone in their district, including young people in housing need. Last year, the Government extended the groups who have a priority need for accommodation under the legislation. The new groups include a number of young homeless people, including 16 and 17-year-olds, care leavers aged 18 to 20 and people over 20 who are vulnerable as a result of having been in care (except those for whom local social services authorities have responsibility).

Through the July 2002 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister issued guidance to housing authorities about discharging their duties under the homelessness legislation. The guidance emphasises that, in dealing with 16 and 17-year-olds who may have left home because of a temporary breakdown in their relationship with their family, local authorities should consider reconciliation with the family as a first response. It also highlights the fact that many young homeless applicants, particularly 16 and 17-year olds

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who are homeless and estranged from their family, will be vulnerable and in need of support. The guidelines also make it clear that housing authorities will need to recognise that accommodation solutions for this client group are likely to be unsuccessful if the necessary support is not provided and close liaison with social services and the Supporting People team will be essential.

Advice on specialist services for homeless young people is also included in "Homelessness Strategies—A good practice handbook" issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in March 2002.

Specialist Personal Advisers in the Connexions Service also play a key role in ensuring that those under 20 in housing need are linked into housing advice services. They should also advise other Personal Advisers working with young people in housing need. The former Rough Sleepers Unit worked closely with the Connexions Service to develop the "Working together" guidance highlighting the strategic links that the Connexions Service should make with local authority homelessness strategies and voluntary agencies working with young people in providing effective housing advice.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister funds Shelter's National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS). NHAS is a secondary advice and support service provided by Shelter in partnership with the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux and has been supported by Government since it was established in 1990. In addition, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister funds agencies such as Alone in London and Centrepoint who work with young people, to promote family mediation, re-establish contact and negotiate a return home or respite care.



Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have for a trial of buprenorphine in (a) British prisons and (b) heroin addicts seeking to stabilise. [118983]

Dr. Ladyman: Buprenorphine is already included in the treatment protocols developed in conjunction with national health service services at eight prison service establishments. The prison service's standard for clinical services for substance misusers requires every establishment which receives prisoners from court to have detoxification guidelines in place for at least one of methadone, lofexidine, and dihydrocodeine. It also states that, as new evidence becomes available on the chemical management of detoxification or abstinence, establishments should develop further treatment guidelines which are in line with those available in the NHS. Prison health keeps the question of a formal trial of buprenorphine in prisons in England under review, but expects its use to develop at a similar pace to the growth in its use in the community.

More generally, the National Treatment Agency (NTA) has a responsibility to maintain the research base and to prioritise and disseminate findings to enhance

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quality of care. Consideration of the use of buprenorphine forms part of the NTA's activity, including receiving advice from experts on prescribing issues. The NTA advocates a range of treatment options following adequate assessment of need and works with local drug action teams (DATs) to ensure an appropriate range of provision is developed locally.

There is already a body of evidence for the efficacy of buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependence. The level of evidence does not suggest that buprenorphine should replace methadone as a substitution treatment, but rather that buprenorphine should now be considered an evidence-based addition to the range of pharmacological maintenance treatments. Information from specialists indicates that there has been an increase in the use of buprenorphine in the United Kingdom as an alternative to methadone.

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