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Under those regulations, there must also be conditions of appropriate privacy and sufficient washing and toilet facilities; sufficient and suitable kitchen equipment; adequate facilities for the preparation and storage of food; adequate facilities for laundering linen and clothing; space for sitting, recreation and dining and for private study; sleeping accommodation that is suitable for needs, including for privacy; and appropriate furniture, storage facilities, lighting, bedding and other furnishings, including suitable window and floor coverings. Furthermore, premises may not be used for the purpose of a childrens home
unless they are in a location and of a physical design and layout suitable for the purpose of achieving the aims and objectives set out in the homes statement of purpose. Childrens homes are also inspected to ensure they meet these and other standards. Once a young person leaves a home or foster care to live in other accommodation, however, the guidance of suitability becomes extremely broad-brush, and there is no independent inspection.
The purpose of the Bill is to sort out those problems by providing clear, simple minimum guidancenothing bureaucratic or over-sophisticated, just the sort of simple guidelines that any decent responsible parent would ensure were in place for their child if they were looking for suitable accommodation. A lot of the work to identify standards has already been donefor example, with student accommodation where national codes of practice have been agreed, covering transparency of charges, responsibility for repairs, health and safety requirements, security, environmental standards and tenant relations. All should be specified in detail and there should be a requirement that contracts for tenancies are fair.
Foyers, which supports more than 10,000 young people each year16 to 25-year-olds in housing needhas a lot of experience in this area. The Foyer Federation has developed an accreditation process with quality standards to ensure that accommodation is affordable accessible, safe, well maintained and appropriate to needs, and meets the needs for independence, privacy and dignity, security and health and safety.
The majority of young people choose when to leave homeperhaps to go to college or university, to take up a job or to move in with friends or a partner. Most of them decide when they want to leave and have a support network to back them up, and family to help them out and a home to go back to if they want. The average age at which people leave home is 24, but young people
leaving care are more likely to be vulnerable and without access to family support. They are more likely to leave at a much earlier age. Last year, 24 per cent. of care leavers left care at 16, and 15 per cent. left at 17. They often have to face a huge number of changes all at once, and all too often have to deal with them without any support or help from a family, and they have nowhere to go back to if things do not work out for them.
With just a small effort from this Houseit is a corporate parent and has a duty of care to these young peoplewe could make a huge difference to outcomes. We have to make sure these young people have accommodation and support that is suitable for them and meets their needs. We need this Bill, so I ask the House to take it forward.
That Helen Southworth, Ann Coffey, Dan Norris, Mr. Barry Sheerman, Mr. David Kidney, Rosemary McKenna, Mr. Kevin Barron, Derek Twigg, Hilary Armstrong, Mr. Mike Hall, John Bercow and Annette Brooke present the Bill.
David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. We are about to have a major debate on the economy. At 12 noon today, the Treasury published Lord Turners report on the causes of the current problems in the economy. As of three minutes ago, the report is not available in the Vote Office. It strikes me as outrageous that the Treasury has not made arrangements to let us know what is going on in its policy formulation.
That this House condemns the fact that, nine months into a recession, Government policy is failing to tackle the deepening economic crisis; notes that the measures announced months ago, including the Working Capital Scheme, the National Internships Scheme, the Asset-Backed Securities Guarantee Scheme, the Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme, the car manufacturers finance guarantee and the Recruitment Subsidies Scheme, have not yet been implemented; questions whether there is any evidence at all that the temporary cut in value added tax has succeeded; notes with concern that the value added tax cut has added to a rapidly deteriorating fiscal position, and that Government debt is likely to double by 2013; calls on the Government once again to implement what was promised, to get credit moving by introducing a National Loan Guarantee Scheme, to take tax measures in order to help savers and to take other measures to help small businesses; and further calls on the Government to start addressing the long-term causes of the current crisis, including a build-up of government, corporate and personal debt which has left the UK more exposed than other countries, and to develop the required long-term reforms of the tax system, the failed tripartite system of regulation, and the public sector, so that in future Britain lives within its means.
As we heard during Prime Ministers Question Time today, we have just seen the fastest monthly rise in unemployment on record, worse than any monthly figure during the 1980s or the 1990s. Vacancies are at a record lowwhich used to be the Governments excuse on days such as thiswhile 2 million people are out of work, and of course the numbers climb steadily. We have also learnt today that the International Monetary Fund has produced new growth forecasts for the world, which show that Britain is set to be in recession for longer than any other major economic area. Indeed, the IMF predicts that the British economy will be the only major economy to contract next year, 2010, when the economies of America, the eurozone and Japan are all forecast to be growing again.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis) has just said, Lord Turner has published his report [Interruption.] I was sent a copy in advance, so I did not need to go to the Vote Office. However, it says something about co-ordination in the tripartite committee that the committee could not convey the report to other Members.
Mr. Osborne: I will give way in a while, but may I be allowed to say something about the report first? It offers a pretty devastating critique not just of the regulatory system created by the Prime Minister in 1997 butthis is in the first half of the reportof a model of economic growth that was based on unsustainable debt, over-leveraged banks and a huge macro-economic imbalance.
One would have thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who commissioned the report and whose policies are deepening the recession, would be here to
debate the economy and defend his approach, but apparently not. We have not had a debate on the economy in Government time since December, and the Government have known about this debate for two weeks. When we suggested it, we were told that there was no pressing international summit or unbreakable commitment that would require the Chancellors absence. There is only one conclusion to be reached: the Chancellor of the Exchequer is running away from the debate because he knows that he is losing the debate. A confident Government, and a Prime Minister who meant what he said about restoring the primacy of Parliament, would have relished the chance for the Chancellor to appear before us today.
The hon. Gentleman opened his speech with a reference to unemployment. Why is there no mention of unemployment in his motion? Is it because, as I suspect, the Tory view is still that unemployment is a price worth paying?
Mr. Osborne: First, our motion refers to the various unemployment and employment schemes that are not operational. Instead of simply taking the Whips handout, the hon. Gentleman might actually read the Order Paper. Secondly, may I give him some advice? I know that he has been in Parliament since 1997, and he has been taking these handout questions since then. He is still not on the ministerial rung, and he only has a year to go. Why does he not change tack, and be a bit more critical of the Government?
Chris Ruane: Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the big difference between this recession and the last one, which took place under the Conservatives, is that under the Tories interest rates were at 15 per cent., whereas in the present recession they are at only 1 per cent.?
Mr. Michael Howard (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): Would not the hon. Member for High Peak (Tom Levitt)and indeed the Prime Minister, earlier todayhave been well advised to read the Government amendment before making the point that they made, as the amendment also contains no reference to unemployment?
So we do not have the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Instead, we have the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. I know that she is not exactly busy these days. I am not sure what the role of a Chief Secretary is in a Treasury that has completely given up any attempt to control public expenditure.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced in an interview in The Guardiannot to the House of Commons, of coursethat there would be no spending review at all this year. The whole panoply of comprehensive spending reviews and three-year plans that we have had from the Prime Minister over the last 15 years has been junked without a word of explanation to Parliament or the public. If somebody does not review spending when they have the biggest budget deficit in the countrys history, they really must have abandoned all the basic responsibilities of government. On the plus side, however, this means that the Chief Secretary has more time on her handsmore time to plan her budding leadership campaign, of which we read in the newspapers, and more time to join us here. We welcome her to her place.
The case that we make today is simple. First, the Governments policies to tackle the recession are simply not workingliterally so, in the case of the many schemes that still exist only in the form of a press release. Secondly, the Government have not yet faced up to the fundamental failure of the debt-fuelled model of economic growth which their Prime Minister pursued for a decade, and which has led us into the longest recession in the world and the deepest recession in our recent history. Or as the right hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke)always a friend of the Prime Ministerput it just this lunchtime on television:
There are many aspects of our economy that put us in a worse position.
nine months into a recession.
That means that the recession started last July. During Prime Ministers Question Time, however, the leader of the hon. Gentlemans party said that it had started in April12 months ago. Could the hon. Gentleman help to resolve the apparent confusion in the Conservative party?
Mr. Osborne: That was a staggeringly poor intervention. First, the Leader of the Opposition said that the economy had not been growing for a year, and I think the hon. Gentleman will find that there was zero growth in the second quarter of last year. Secondly, if he wishes to trade quotations of what was said during Prime Ministers Question Time, I point out that the Prime Minister said that America had entered the recession before the United Kingdom, and it experienced positive growth in the second quarter of last year. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will be writing to his right hon. Friend to correct him as well.
Mr. Osborne: If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to make a little progress, I shall give way to him laterand, perhaps, hear whether he supports what Ken Livingstone has been saying about the Prime Minister today. I will give the hon. Gentleman some time to think about that. We might also hear about what the Member sitting next to him, the hon. Member for Dagenham (Jon Cruddas), has written in The Guardian today about how new Labour has lost its spirit of generosity and lost touch with the people of this country. While the hon. Member for Eltham (Clive Efford) reflects on that, let me say this [Interruption.] May I just add that we support the campaign of the hon. Member for Dagenham for the leadership of the Labour party?
A lot of attention has been given in recent weeks in this House, and especially in the media, to the repeated bail-out of the banks and the forthcoming G20 meeting, and I will discuss those on a later occasion, but what I want to draw to the Houses attention today is the failure of the policies that, in the Governments words, are supposed to be providing real help now to families and businesses struggling with the recession. That slogan of real help now is a cruel joke to thousands of people who have lost their jobs, and continue to lose their jobs, while this Government dither and delay.
Clive Efford: The hon. Gentleman has talked about what works and what does not work. Can he explain how cutting inheritance tax for the richest 3,000 people, at a time when we are in one of the deepest recessions in the last 100 years, will help ordinary families who are struggling to survive through this recession?
Mr. Osborne: My memory of the autumn of 2007 was that I proposed some changes to inheritance tax that the hon. Gentlemans Government then copied about a week later. In commemoration of that occasion, I was sent a cartoon by a Labour MP showing the Chancellor and the Prime Minister climbing through a window to steal my policies from my office. Therefore, if the hon. Gentleman has a complaint, please will he take it up with those on his own Front Bench?
Mr. Doug Henderson (Newcastle upon Tyne, North) (Lab): Setting aside the political rhetoric [Interruption.] I think we have heard a lot of that today. Setting aside the political rhetoric, does the Conservative party accept that as part of any fiscal stimulus internationally, it is inevitable in this country, as in other G20 countries that both debt and borrowing will be a higher percentage of GDP, rising in every advanced country above the 3 per cent.? If the Conservatives do accept that, what is their strategy for tackling Britains position?
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