Housing Specification Blog

More homeless families seek refuge in B&Bs

September 17, 2012 Alexandra Blakeman Housing Issues

The number of families living in Bed and Breakfast accommodation has risen by 44% over the last year.

The National Housing Federation has reported that there were 3,960 families living in temporary accommodation between January and March this year nationwide.

David Orr, chief executive of the body, which represents housing associations, 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.”

Since the government passed the policy to cap housing benefit, the problem has, somewhat predictably, become more acute. In the Guardian today, it was reported that Westminster council had received more than 1,150 household enquiries about local housing allowance.

Without building more affordable housing developments, the number of families forced from their homes due to high rent costs and pronounced homeless will only increase. Sourcing suitable land on which to build new developments is proving to be a hindrance. In a previous blog, I wrote about the government’s suggestion that Green Belt land could be used for new housing schemes. Last week George Osborne pushed to reform planning laws to permit this initiative.

With limited space available for new builds and more families seeking refuge in temporary accommodation, our protected rural land might offer the only solution.

Mark Prisk, 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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