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13 Jul 2004 : Column 1082W—continued


Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which local authorities had fewer statutorily homeless households placed in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2004 than they did on 1 May 1997. [182903]

Phil Hope: Local authorities report information on their activities under homelessness legislation quarterly, and this includes the number of homeless households in temporary accommodation as on the last day of the quarter. The following table shows the 59 local authorities that reported fewer households as at 31 March 2004 compared to that reported as at 31 March 1997.
Homeless households in temporary accommodation(20) arranged by the local authority, as at 31 March

19972004Change from
1997 to 2004
East Devon6413-51
Test Valley148100-48
South Kesteven5812-46
East Dorset8241-41
Epsom and Ewell6733-34
Tunbridge Wells7453-21
North Dorset221-21
Forest of Dean5031-19
Redcar and Cleveland9173-18
South Staffordshire3218-14
New Forest215203-12
East Staffordshire120-12
Kibble Valley2111-10
City of London3325-8
Castle Morpeth80-8
South Shropshire3023-7
Amber Valley3227-5
West Lindsey1411-3
Blyth Valley63-3
Mid Sussex5554-1
Blackburn with Darwen43-1
West Lancashire65-1
North Warwickshire10-1

(20) Households in temporary accommodation arranged by the local authority pending inquiries, or after being accepted, under homelessness legislation.
1. Of 354 local authorities in England, 32 authorities failed to report in either or both years.
2. Excludes "homeless at home" households.
ODPM P1E homelessness returns (quarterly).

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Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what factors other than the extension of the categories of priority need have been assessed as contributing to (a) the change in the numbers of statutorily homeless households in temporary accommodation since 1 May 1997 and (b) the average length of time they have to wait before being permanently rehoused; [182906]

(2) what estimate he has made of the average length of time a statutorily homeless household to whom a local authority accepted a duty in 2004 will have to wait before being permanently rehoused. [182907]

Phil Hope: There is a complex interplay between a number of factors that cause homelessness (including the supply of housing and personal problems such as relationship breakdown, debt or drug misuse). This was set out in the March 2002 report "More than a roof" which emphasises the importance of concentrating as much on people and the problems they face as on places in which they live.

The Homelessness and Housing Support Directorate, within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, is taking forward the approaches set out in "More than a roof". The directorate works closely with local authorities, voluntary sector agencies (including housing associations), and other Government Departments to improve our understanding of the relationship between all the factors that influence homelessness and to test and promote new ways to tackle homelessness more effectively.

Information reported quarterly by local authorities on their activities under homelessness legislation includes the number of households that, during the quarter, left temporary accommodation provided by the authority, or who were no longer registered as "homeless at home", by the length of stay (in broad time bands).

Projections of the expected average length of stay for households currently being accepted as owed a main homelessness duty are not made. In the March quarter of 1997 the average length of stay for homeless households prior to leaving temporary accommodation in England was around 100 days; the equivalent figure for 2004 was around 270 days.
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Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of households accepted as being homeless in London between March 2003 and March 2004 were of black or minority ethnic origin. [181663]

Phil Hope: Information about local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation is collected quarterly. Estimates of households accepted by London boroughs between 1 April 2003 and 31 March 2004 as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, by black or ethnic minority group, is tabled as follows.
Black or minority ethnic18,42058
Ethnic origin1,5705
All households31,530100

Estimates include imputation for any non-responding authorities.
Totals may not equal sum of components because of rounding
ODPM P1E homelessness returns (quarterly)

Homes above Shops

Martin Linton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will estimate how many under-used or vacant spaces above shops have been converted or renovated as a rented dwelling since May 2001. [183273]

Keith Hill: The information required to provide such an estimate is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his decision not to introduce the duty of care on owners of houses in multiple occupation proposed in Licensing of HMOs—England: A consultation paper. [182908]

Keith Hill: The Government decided not to introduce an additional provision relating to the duty of care on owners of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) because such a duty already exists in law and will be complemented by the provisions in the Housing Bill currently before Parliament.

Under section 4 of the Defective Premises Act 1972 a landlord is under an obligation to ensure that the tenants of premises (for which he has a duty to repair) are reasonably safe from personal injury arising from relevant defects. This duty applies to all landlords who let under tenancies and, therefore, extends to landlords of HMOs.Paragraph 13 of the Housing (Management of Houses In Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990 places a duty on managers of HMOs to ensure that adequate precautions are taken to prevent injury to residents arising from the design and structural conditions of the HMO. Whilst it is intended to revoke these regulations on the coming into force of the Housing Bill, the Government intends to re- enact this regulation in new regulations provided for in the Bill. Those new regulations will ensure that acceptable management standards are in place in all HMOs and a failure to comply with any of those regulations will be a criminal offence, prosecutable by a local authority.
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A local authority can use its powers under Part 1 of the Bill to enforce improvements made necessary by management failures.

Part 1 of the Housing Bill will place a duty on a local authority to take enforcement action to deal with defects in HMOs and other residential dwellings where it determines there is a serious threat to the health or safety of the occupiers.

Housing (Victims of Domestic Violence)

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the status is of women who are living in a women's refuge in order to escape violence or abuse in respect of (a) homelessness and (b) council housing waiting lists; and if he will make a statement. [182724]

Phil Hope: A woman living in a women's refuge in order to escape violence or abuse would be statutorily homeless if it was not reasonable for her to continue to live in the refuge and she had no other suitable accommodation available for her occupation which she had a legal right to occupy.

The "Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities", to which local housing authorities in England must have regard by law, states that women's refuges are intended to provide very short term accommodation and should not be regarded as reasonable to continue to occupy in the medium and longer term. Housing authorities should recognise that placing an applicant in a refuge will generally be a temporary expedient only, and a prolonged stay could block a bed space that was urgently needed by someone else at risk. Refuges should be used to provide accommodation for the minimum period necessary before alternative suitable accommodation is secured elsewhere.

She would be entitled to make an application for an allocation of accommodation to any housing authority and if she was considered to be homeless by that authority should be given reasonable preference for an allocation under the authority's allocation scheme.

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