Latest Public Sector News

18.02.13

Councils’ use of B&Bs for housing rises 800%

The use of B&Bs to house poor families for over six weeks has risen by 800% since the last general election, new figures show.

Freedom of information requests by Labour to 325 councils, 242 of which responded, found that 125 reported placing poor families in hotels for six weeks or more. 54% of these councils are Conservative.

Such a move is meant to be a short-term solution, and it is illegal for councils to use B&Bs for longer than six weeks.

Local authorities point to welfare cuts and a lack of affordable housing, making B&Bs the only option is some cases. Councils are currently spending an average of £650 a week to keep people off the streets.

Jack Dromey, Labour's shadow housing minister, called it “an absolute disgrace” and said: “The Government’s housing and economic policies are failing and families with children are paying the price. Affordable house building has collapsed, rents are soaring and their ill-thought-through benefit changes are driving up homelessness.

“But the Government's policies are not just causing desperate hardship for those affected, they're costing taxpayers millions of pounds every week.”

The housing minister Mark Prisk had said in December: “There is absolutely no excuse for any family to be stuck in bed and breakfast accommodation, and the law is clear that families should only be placed in this temporary accommodation in an emergency and only then for no more than six weeks. It is also a waste of taxpayers' money to be paying such large sums to house families in unsuitable accommodation.

“Where families do have to be housed in bed and breakfast, it should be a short-term measure whilst suitable accommodation is found. We have invested £470m funding to ensure we continue to have some of the strongest protections in the world against homelessness, which has helped ensure that levels remain lower than for 28 of the last 30 years.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

Horace Mitchell   19/02/2013 at 11:18

Great headline but it and the copy don't mean a lot unless you also state the underlying numbers. Had the same thing recently in my own council, with a report on the lines that the incidence of problem X had increased by 200% year on year. Asked for the numbers, the increase was from 3 cases to 9 cases, in a population of 70,000. The rior year had been 6, so the variation couldn't be said to be any kind of indicator. Housing people in B&B is on the increase for obvious reasons, is very bad news indeed for the families concerned, should only be for emergency use, and the underlying problems certainly need to be diagnosed and addressed, though some are outwith the abilities of local or indeed national governments. But please let's have the hard facts. Equally, the proportion of the authorities reported as being Conservative-run ("54% of these councils are Conservative"). If memory serves, that's about the same as the proportion of all relevant authorities (district and unitary) that are Conservative-run. If so then it simply means the problem affects all authorities regardless of political control - the comment becomes meaningless. Given that this is based on "Freedom of information requests by Labour ", one gets the impression you've simply recylced their handout and interpretation . . . .

Pam Clayfield   21/02/2013 at 14:51

This inept, cruel Tory led coalition are doing great damage to the social fabric of this country.Their ill thought through policies and endless U turns will result in tax payers paying more NOT less.This situations regarding lack of affordable housing stems from the Thatcher government and the right to buy council housing.Local councils did not receive revenue for these sales and therefore could not build more social housing.We are left with a huge crisis which will be difficult to rectify,because greedy property developers are fixed on making maximum profit by constructing only 3/4/5 bedroom houses.Private landlords with 2 bedroom houses will exploit those on lower incomes ,which ultimately will lead to more homelessness.All this misery being created by an idealogical elite who are currently in power. There is bound to be huge unrest and disruption by preaching AUSTERITY without a modicum of growth.It's a DISASTER!!!

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