Decision Maker Response

Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty’s response

Feb 12, 2016 — Thank you for taking the time to engage with this incredibly important issue. It is heartening to see almost 116,000 people working together to bring about positive change in society.

Affecting change is the very reason I went into politics and having the ability to introduce policies which improve the lives of millions of people in Wales is now a huge privilege as well as an enormous responsibility.

Addressing the issue of teenage homelessness and ensuring our young people have a safe and warm place to sleep at night has been a priority for me since the very first day I became Minister with the responsibility for housing in Wales. I passionately believe nobody, young or old, should be faced with the threat of becoming homeless and I am proud to say this Government is leading the way on preventing homelessness, with more progressive legislation than anywhere else in the UK.

Thanks to our action, more people than ever before are prevented from becoming homeless and I was very pleased our hard work and progress were recognised during the meeting with Michael and the End Youth Homelessness Cymru Partnership.

The meeting was very constructive – it was clear each of us around the table shared a passion to end the use of Bed and Breakfast accommodation for young people facing homelessness.

Ensuring all teenagers have a safe place to stay is of upmost importance to this Government and we are working towards our ambition to end the use of B&Bs for 16 and 17 year olds.

Work has been ongoing for several months to produce strengthened statutory guidance for local authorities, which will make it absolutely clear we consider the use of B&B accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds unsuitable. This guidance will be issued next month.

However, strengthening guidance alone will not, of course, resolve this difficult issue.

This is why increased monitoring is also underway so we have a clearer picture of which local authorities are able to provide services without any reliance on bed and breakfast accommodation and which ones need greater support to achieve this.

I will continue discussions with my colleague, Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services, to ensure our response is comprehensive and engages with social services agencies. We will also continue to work with partners to develop a comprehensive emergency accommodation network to increase consistency in provision across Wales and will support better communication between local authorities so our young people have a safe place to stay when they need it.

I am grateful to you all for shining a light on this important issue. As Michael has said, I have listened to your concerns and I am continuing to take action to make the use of B&B accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds a thing of the past.

Lesley Griffiths.