Housing crisis sees English councils ‘spending five times more on B&Bs’

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Councils in England are spending five times more on housing homeless people in B&Bs than they were a decade ago, analysis of official figures shows.

Housing needed

A rising number of homeless people are being placed into bed and breakfast accommodation due to a shortage of suitable housing, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

Councils spent £142m housing families and homeless individuals in B&Bs in 2019-20, according to data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). This is up from £26.7m in 2010/11.

Provisional government figures also show that there were 10,510 households in B&Bs in the last three months of 2020 – more than four times the number a decade ago (2,310).

The social housing crisis

The LGA said the figures underline the “desperate need” for more social housing. It’s calling for councils to be given further powers and resources to build 100,000 social homes for rent each year.

Councillor David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said:

Sadly, these figures reflect the scale of the housing challenges that our country faces. Councils will only use bed and breakfasts as a last resort, but the severe lack of suitable housing means they now have no choice.

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This is hugely disruptive to families with children, and the rising demand for support has come with soaring costs for councils.

Throughout the pandemic government has trusted councils to get on with the job of protecting the nation, supporting people and putting infrastructures in place to help with recovery. We want to continue this momentum and work with government to tackle the shortage of housing and build the homes the country desperately needs.

With the right funding and freedoms, councils can help government achieve its ambitions for our national recovery from the pandemic. Giving councils the powers to build council housing on the scale required, would go a significant way towards reducing homelessness and the need to place households in bed and breakfasts.

The eviction crisis

Next week, hundreds of council leaders and officials will come together virtually for the LGA’s annual conference. The LGA is also calling for the government to bring forward its pledge to end so-called “no fault” evictions, and maintain the temporary £20-a-week Universal Credit increase, due to end in September. It also wants to see a review of the benefits cap in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

An MHCLG spokesperson said:

As you would expect, the decisive action we have taken to protect vulnerable people and save lives during the pandemic has clearly contributed to these figures. Our Homelessness Reduction Act has already helped nearly 350,000 households into more permanent accommodation and we’re investing £750 million over the next year alone to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping and lessen the need for temporary accommodation.

We’re investing more than £12 billion in affordable housing over five years, the largest investment in a decade, with half for affordable and social rent.

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