A GWENT AM quizzed Mark Drakeford on how homeless people in Wales are supported to get off the streets and into housing during his inaugural First Minister's Questions this week.

Speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, Islwyn's Rhianon Passmore asked Mr Drakeford to explain what is being done to cut homelessness in Wales.

The Labour AM said: “At least 320,000 people are homeless in Britain according to research by the housing charity, Shelter.

“The estimate suggests that, nationally, one in 200 people are homeless."

Last month the Welsh Government announced a new £700,000 scheme helping get homeless people into housing.

Ms Passmore asked: “How will Welsh Government action help take people out of homelessness in Islwyn, and how does this action compare to the austerity actions of the UK Tory Government that even the United Nations say was designed to hurt the poor?”

She was speaking after a report by a United Nations rapporteur said UK Government policies such as Universal Credit had actively increased poverty in the UK.

Replying, Mr Drakeford called the increase in people sleeping on the streets “surely one of the most shocking and distressing phenomena of our time”.

But he said tackling rough sleeping and homelessness was “complex”.

“It's more than accommodation, we know – it involves more than one agency in a successful response. It requires more than one pathway, because people's needs are very different between being a young person or someone who has a dependency on drugs or alcohol, and we know that there is more than one solution that can be brought about to meet that problem.

“The innovative work that is being done by the voluntary sector, by the housing association sector and by local authorities in Wales, I think gives us some heart that, in those really difficult and distressing circumstances, there is more that we can and want to do here in Wales.”