MQT on 2002-10-23
Session date: 
October 23, 2002
Question By: 
Trevor Phillips
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Will the Mayor join with me in condemning the recent outrageous statements by Westminster Council, proposing that homeless are charged for sleeping rough on Westminster's streets? What will the Mayor do to make sure that not only are the Tories unable to enact such a scandalous policy, but that they work harder to address the problems of homelessness in London, rather than cynically attempting to demonise those most affected by it?



Answer for Homelessness

Answer for Homelessness

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I do join with you to condemn Westminster's idea of fining homeless people £500 for sleeping rough in parts of central London. It is a mad and bad idea. If you haven't got any money, a £500 fine is not going to be a deterrent. I know from my officers' past and current work with rough sleepers that there are people who want to remain on the streets and who do not respond to offers of help. Many of them have alcohol, drug and/or mental health problems. They represent a hard core of the Government's most recent estimate of 264 rough sleepers and the focus of policy and support by many agencies. Westminster has a particularly large share of the problem. The Council is working with others to find solutions. I would like to support more coordination and joint working between the central London boroughs and other agencies to explore ideas such as street drinking bylaws, off-licence agreements and the provision of more indoor provision for street drinkers (where at least the people can be approached). There may well be other ideas. This unpopular and difficult group of people, with their multiple problems, should be the subject for serious cross-borough, inter-agency, work as part of the Supporting People policy. .