Letter: Further fuel for a singular furore

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The Independent Online
Sir: You incorrectly quote me ('Labour slants homes policy against the single parent,' 7 July) as having written to John Gummer opposing the idea of housing single mothers in hostels. In fact, I specifically urged him to look at making greater use of shared accommodation, where single mothers can be given - or give each other - greater support than if they are living alone. I do, however, rule out the idea of compelling teenage single parents to live in hostels as being impractical because of the capital costs involved.

My starting point is that the current system does little to help single parents, significantly disadvantages other families waiting for council houses, and is vastly expensive. Indeed, I can think of no worse way of helping a teenage mother and her young child than putting them, alone, in a council flat.

For those reasons, I would like the Government to do more to encourage single parents to stay at home with their own parents, as this will often be a much better environment for raising the child and gives the mother the chance to find part-time or full-time work.

If more young single mothers lived with their parents or in shared accommodation, we could also make inroads into council waiting lists and give other families that have often waited for years on end an earlier chance of a home of their own.

The current system does not work properly. The Government is absolutely right to look at the area, as it offers the scope for a system that actually provides better help to those in need, at less cost to the taxpayer.

Yours faithfully,

CHARLES HENDRY

MP for High Peak (Con)

House of Commons

London, SW1

8 July

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