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Prisoners' Release: Females

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL871, tabled on 8 June 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure no woman is released from prison to homelessness.

Answered on

22 June 2021

We are committed to doing all we can to address the issues around female offending. It is vital that we do so to better protect the public and deliver more effective rehabilitation. This includes supporting women when they are leaving prison.

In June 2018, the Government published the Female Offender Strategy. This set out a programme of work to improve outcomes for female offenders and make society safer by tackling the underlying causes of offending and reoffending. Its publication was the start of a new and significant programme of work to deliver better outcomes for female offenders that will take some years to deliver. We recognise the important role that the women’s community services play in supporting female offenders. We have invested some £7m in the sector since 2018 and announced a further £2.5m funding on 11 June 2021.

As part of our commitment to tackling the issues female offenders face, we have a Reducing Re-offending lead specifically for the Women’s Estate which allows us to make sure that we are focused on the outcomes specifically from within the women’s prisons. As part of our commitment to eliminate rough sleeping, we are working across Government with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Welsh Government and Other Government Departments, to address the barriers offenders face in securing suitable accommodation.

We are investing more than £20m in supporting prison leavers at risk of homelessness into temporary accommodation. Individuals released from prison will be provided up to 12 weeks of temporary accommodation and will be supported into long-term settled accommodation before the end of that 12-week period. Initially launching in five national probation regions, the service will support around 3,000 offenders in its first year and will be commencing in Summer. It will be in operation during the next financial year 2021-22, with a view to scaling up and rolling out nationally, though the Spending Review 2021 will set out the approach for future years.

The service will take account of the needs of women, including those with complex needs and accommodation provision will be dedicated to single gender usage as required. Community Offender Managers, working together with local partners, will be responsible for ensuring that vulnerable female prison leavers with complex needs receive appropriate support and are provided with housing beyond the 12 weeks’ emergency accommodation.

We are introducing and testing a new specialist housing advisor role in twenty prisons, including within the female estate. The new role will seek to strengthen links between prisons, through the gate teams and local authorities to improve accommodation outcomes for those at risk of homelessness. Subject to evaluation, the intention is to scale up and roll-out nationally across all resettlement prisons.

In 2020, Hestia Battersea was changed from a male to female Approved Premises to give better geographic spread of AP provision for women, becoming the first AP for women in London since 2008.

In addition, Eden House, the first new AP in over thirty years, will open in this month supporting female offenders.

Following a comprehensive review, the ‘Subsistence Payment’ (currently known as the Discharge Grant) will be uprated from £46 to £76 to reflect increases in the UK’s Consumer Prices Index (CPI). This is planned to come into effect during Summer 2021. Going forward, the Subsistence Payment will be increased year on year in line with the CPI until 2024/25.