§ 7. Mr. Murphy
To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met leaders of district councils in Wales to discuss housing matters in the Principality.
§ Mr. Murphy
Does the Minister agree that even on his own figures, 20,000 people in Wales are homeless as we approach Christmas? Bearing in mind that the 7 Government have been in office for nearly 12 years, does he accept that that is a disgraceful and crushing indictment of their housing policy?
§ Mr. Grist
I notice that the hon. Gentleman's council of Torfaen has been able to cut homelessness by 15 per cent. in the 12 months to March, which rather gives the impression that if other councils put their minds to the provision of housing instead of actually building houses, they could make better use of the money available to them—which, after all, increased by 15 per cent. this year over the previous year's figure—and the £2 million which was made available especially to local authorities for homelessness provision. That is the way the hon. Gentleman should look forward.
§ Mr. Gwilym Jones
We are all grateful to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the hard work that he puts in at the Welsh Office. He has become a very good Minister, not least on the subject of housing. What is the latest allocation to Housing for Wales and what will it mean in terms of new houses?
§ Mr. Grist
I thank my hon. Friend for the very kind start to his remarks. The increase in the current year was 42 per cent. on the previous year, which itself was 30 per cent. up on the previous year. Through Tai Cymru we have been providing adequate provision for housing association build, which many local authorities have been putting to good use by adding more than £17 million of their own money to get joint financing. That is the way forward which we believe would best answer the needs of specific groups whom local authorities are seeking to house.