Homelessness at Christmas

The amount of families with children living in emergency B&Bs in England increased by 45% in the year to the end of September – a 12-year high, according to official data. These recent figures spark concern that many people will be homeless this Christmas.

Around 3,000 households with children were in bed and breakfast-style accommodation on 30th September this year, revealed the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Of these, just under a third had been in this type of housing for over six weeks.

Homelessness at Christmas

Homelessness at Christmas

This is the highest figure since summer 2003 and highlights how councils are struggling to find suitable accommodation for homeless families.

The DCLG believes that the main reason for the loss of a home is the end of a private tenancy, which has been an increasingly frequent cause in the last six years, as the number of people renting privately has soared.

In 2009-10, 11% of families seeking help from councils had been living in private rental housing previously, but by 2013-15, this grew to 29%. Between June and September this year, it hit 31%.

Local councils use bed and breakfasts to house homeless families when they cannot find social or private rental accommodation.

Often, parents and children are forced to live in a single room with kitchens and bathrooms shared with other families.

Other forms of temporary housing include hostels and refuges, supported dwellings and self-contained annexes, which are usually small units including a shower, gas stove or electric hob and fridge.

Statistics from the DCLG show that there were 68,560 households across all types of temporary accommodation on 30th September, a 13% rise on the same day in 2014. A quarter of these had been moved to a different local authority area.

Among these families were 103,430 children or expected children. Households with dependent children and/or pregnant women that are vulnerable in some way are among the priority groups for councils when assessing applications.

Between 1st July and 30th September, councils received 29,050 applications for assistance from homeless families, up 2% on the same period last year. Of these, 50% were accepted, a 4% increase on 2014. Local authorities in London accounted for a third of all acceptances, with 4,700 households.

In the capital, the amount of families living in temporary accommodation as of 30th September 2015 was 50,490, up 10% on the same date in the previous year (45,810) and accounting for 74% of the total number in England.

The amount of households in temporary housing in the rest of England grew by 20% over the same period, from 15,100 last year to 18,080 this year.

Chief Executive of homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb, comments: “These figures are a heart-breaking reminder that thousands of families will wake up homeless this Christmas morning – many hidden away in a cramped and dingy B&B or hostel room, sometimes miles away from everyone and everything they know.

“With the double blow of cuts to welfare and a chronic lack of affordable housing, many more families are facing a desperate battle to keep a roof over their heads.”1 

1 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/17/homeless-families-bed-and-breakfast-england-dclg


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