Households in temporary accommodation rise almost 75% this decade

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A homeless person in London (Victoria Jones/PA)

The number of households living in temporary accommodation in England has risen by almost 75% this decade, according to the Government’s latest homelessness figures.

A total of 83,700 households were in bed and breakfasts and other temporary accommodation at the end of December 2018, including 124,490 children, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said.

The latest statutory homelessness figures show a 5% rise on the total of 79,720 at the end of December 2018 and a 74.3% rise on the low of 48,010 at the end of 2010.

Among the 83,700 households in temporary accommodation there were 61,740 families with children, including 5,710 in emergency bed and breakfasts and hostels.

Polly Neate, chief executive at homeless charity Shelter, said: “It’s impossible to ignore the frightening levels of homelessness in England right now.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are desperate for help, from those sleeping on the street to families trapped in emergency B&Bs.

“More people are being pushed to the hard edge of the housing crisis by crippling private rents, frozen benefits, and endless waiting lists for social homes that don’t exist.

“It’s clear this is a national emergency that won’t go away on its own – real change must happen now.”

The figures show that London continues to have a disproportionately high number of households in temporary accommodation with 68% of the total for the whole of England.

The capital had 56,880 households living in temporary accommodation at the end of December.

In England, there were approximately 1.4 households living in temporary accommodation per 1,000 households outside London but this figure is 16.2 in the capital.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

According to the statistics released on Friday, the number of households in temporary accommodation with shared facilities, bed and breakfast and hostels including women’s refuges, was 12,720, or 15.2% of the total.

Of these, 6,980 households were living in bed and breakfasts, an increase of 20.8% from 5,780 at the same time last year and the highest since the third quarter of 2004.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive at homeless charity Crisis, said: “It’s both shocking and heartbreaking that thousands of people across England are finding themselves trapped in unsuitable temporary accommodation when what they really need is a stable housing.

“B&B’s are no place to call home. They’re often cramped or sub-standard and sometimes even dangerous.

“What’s worse is more and more people are becoming trapped in these B&Bs for months or even years at a time with no hope of moving on, in part because Local Housing Allowance (LHA) no longer covers the true cost of renting in large parts of the country. ”

MHCLG released figures for the two quarters to December 2018 after the new Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) came into force in April last year.

The Act created new duties for local authorities in England and created new categories and the ministry stressed that the statistics are not directly comparable to previous figures due to the significant changes in the system.

The data shows that in the last six months of 2018 some 58,120 households were found to be homeless – defined as owed a relief duty – and 70,250 were found to be threatened with homelessness – defined as owed a prevention duty.

However, the statistics also show homelessness has been prevented for 39,640 households since the the Act came into force last year.

Mr Sparkes said: “The Homelessness Reduction Act, which places an increased duty on councils to prevent and resolve people’s homelessness, has great potential, but can only work alongside further measures that tackle the root causes of the issue.”

Alex Cunningham MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said: “The shameful rise in homeless children stuck in temporary accommodation will be the legacy of this failed Conservative Government.

“Rising homelessness is a crisis of the Tories’ own making as we’ve seen investment in the number of low-cost homes to buy and rent tumble.

“Add to that cuts in housing benefit, reduced funding for homelessness services and a private rental sector lacking any real protections and we know why so many are being let down.”

A Local Government Association spokesman said: “Many councils are struggling to cope with rising homelessness and to find suitable accommodation for those in need.

“The increasing use of temporary accommodation is not only financially unsustainable for councils but is hugely disruptive for those families placed in such accommodation.”

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