Homeless families in B&B accommodation up by 44%
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Tue Sep 18 01:09:00 BST 2012
Homeless families in B&B accommodation up by 44%
National Housing Federation points to rise as 20
councils warned about housing families in B&Bs for 'unacceptably long time'
Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor - The
Guardian, Monday 17 September 2012
The National Housing Federation found that
between January and March 2012 there were 3,960
families nationwide living in B&Bs, up from 2,750
over the same period in 2011. Photograph: Tony Watson/Alamy
The number of homeless families put up by
councils in bed and breakfast accommodation has
risen by almost half, according to an analysis of
official figures. The rise comes after ministers
warned 20 councils not to house families in B&Bs for six weeks or more.
The National Housing Federation, which represents
housing associations, found that between January
and March 2011 there were 2,750 families
nationwide living in B&Bs. In the same period in
2012 this had risen to 3,960, an increase of 44%.
The federation also says the number of homeless
families is increasing, pushing up demand for
"emergency temporary accommodation" (B&Bs). In
the past two years, the number of households
accepted as homeless has risen by 10,000 to 50,290.
The problem is acute in inner London, where the
government's policy of capping housing benefit
has caused thousands of families to approach
councils to help cover the shortfall between rent
and state subsidies. Westminster council said it
now had more than "1,150 households approach for
advice and assistance due to the local housing
allowance (LHA) cap. In July, 141 households
approached for advice, an increase of 27 on the previous month."
"We believe the rise in acceptances is the result
of the LHA caps and a high proportion of
applications coming from families who are unable
to find alternative accommodation, who we are
required to accept through homeless legislation," the council said.
Because of the shortage of affordable properties
for low-income people, many are being exported
out of London. According to Westminster, "in the
last month we have secured properties in Hemel
Hempstead, Bletchley, Maidstone and Grays" to house the homeless.
The federation says this sort of temporary
accommodation is preferable to B&Bs, which lead
to poor people having no security of tenure.
However, it warned that from April 2013, families
living in these homes could be hit by another cap
which limits the total amount of benefits paid to households to £500 a week.
"As [homes in the private rental sector] become
more expensive to rent and manage, this could
mean families are unable to pay the rent
pushing them back into B&Bs, or even on to the streets," it said.
The government has not yet confirmed how the
benefit cap will affect people living in
temporary accommodation and what measures will be
taken to protect the service.David Orr, chief
executive of the National Housing Federation,
said: "In a B&B, whole families can find
themselves sharing one room and they are often
shut out of their accommodation during the day,
causing huge disruption to daily routines of
school and work. Every child deserves a decent
home to come back to after school, where they
feel secure, and where they can sit down to do
their homework. That is what temporary accommodation provides.
"Without the safety net of temporary
accommodation, thousands more families will find
themselves in a vicious cycle of homelessness.
"It is essential that the government puts in
place measures to protect this crucial service
and the vulnerable families who depend on it."
Mark Prisk, the Tory housing minister, said:
"There is no excuse for any family to be stuck in
bed and breakfast accommodation, and we have
offered support to those 20 councils who between
them account for 80% of families in this
situation for an unacceptably long time.
"We have some of the strongest protections in the
world to safeguard people from homelessness, and
levels remain lower than in 28 of the last 30
years. Councils have a range of options at their
disposal to help anyone facing the threat of
losing their home, and to help them further we've
increased the discretionary housing pot to about
£400m over the spending period to help families
with the transition to the new, fairer system of benefits."
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