Thursday, 02 April 2015 00:00

Huge rise in number of families living in temporary accommodation

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 The number of families in temporary accommodation is on the rise. Photograph: Mike Abrahams/Alamy The number of families in temporary accommodation is on the rise. Photograph: Mike Abrahams/Alamy

Rising rents and a shortage of affordable housing blamed for households being forced into B&Bs and the hands of private landlords.

The number of families living in temporary accommodation in England rose by more than a quarter in the three years to the end of 2014, official figures show.

Rising private rents and a chronic shortage of affordable homes have helped push the number of families without a permanent home to the highest level in almost six years.

By the end of the year 61,970 homeless households were in temporary lodging, from B&Bs to homes rented from private landlords, of which 46,700 were families with children.

The figures had been falling, dropping to 48,190 and 35,950 respectively in the spring of 2011, but have now returned to the levels seen in early 2009.

The figures, from the Department for Communities and Local Government showed the number of children in temporary housing increased by almost 10,000 year-on-year to 90,450.

One in 10 of these families were housed in accommodation with shared facilities. The figures showed 780 families had been in bed and breakfast style accommodation for more than six weeks, compared with 500 in 2013.

Between 1 October and 31 December 2014, local authorities in England accepted 13,650 households as homeless, a 6% increase on the same quarter of 2013.

The most common reason for the loss of their last settled home was the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy with a private landlord. This accounted for 30% of all homelessness cases accepted by councils, up from 25% in the final quarter of 2013.

For the last eleven consecutive quarters this has been the biggest reason for homelessness, which the DCLG said could just reflect the increase in the number of households living in the private rented sector.

Parents no longer being willing or able to provide accommodation was the reason for 16% of cases, while friends or other relatives being no longer able to help accounted for 12%.

The housing charity Shelter said the figures were equivalent to four homeless children in every school.

Shelter’s chief executive, Campbell Robb, said there were thousands of homeless families “hidden away in emergency B&Bs and hostels, often forced to live in cramped conditions, share bathrooms with strangers, and eat their meals on the floor”.

He added: “Every day we speak to homeless parents who are desperate to find a stable place to bring up their children, but with so few affordable homes being built and a safety net in tatters, instead many are ending up living in limbo in temporary accommodation.”

Matt Downie, director of policy at the homelessness charity Crisis, said changes to benefits had contributed to the problem.

“More and more people are struggling to pay their rent in an increasingly insecure private rented sector. We know from our own research that housing benefit cuts are a central driver of this trend, with more than half of councils fearing worse is yet to come in the next two years,” he said.

“This must be a wake-up call for all political leaders: the housing crisis will not solve itself. We desperately need more affordable homes as well as political action to fix our broken private rented sector. At the same time, we must have a safety net that genuinely reflects the reality of renting.”

Read 951 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 April 2015 08:49


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