§ Mr. Burstow
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department has issued to social services departments and the NHS concerning the role of health and social care staff in the development and delivery of strategies to prevent homelessness. 
§ Jacqui Smith
[holding answer 19 December 2002]: The National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Bill currently before Parliament will devolve responsibility for developing a local health improvement and modernisation plan to local primary care trusts. They will also receive a statutory duty to work in partnership with local authorities to assess local care needs and ensure the delivery of appropriate services. PCTs will also be responsible for improving the health status of the local population; including working in partnership with local authorities to address issues such as homelessness.
The Rough Sleepers Unit published a good practice handbook, "Preventing Tomorrow's Rough Sleepers", in 2001. This contains examples of action that can be taken by various service providers, including health practitioners and social services, to prevent people from becoming homeless. The Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions will also publish guidance to local authorities on developing homelessness strategies with local partners including health service providers.
We are aware that children placed in temporary accommodation, especially in bed and breakfast, must have regular health and developmental checks by health staff. New guidance will be issued to local authorities on this issue in the near future.