Homeless families trapped in temporary accommodation

Jon Sparkes of Crisis described the situation as truly terrible
Jon Sparkes of Crisis described the situation as truly terrible

More and more homeless people are becoming trapped in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs as councils fail to provide enough affordable, stable homes, a new report said.

Seven out of 10 local councils in England surveyed by Crisis struggle to find stable social housing for homeless people in their area, with 78,000 households in temporary accommodation, the charity’s annual homelessness monitor found.

If current trends continue, it is estimated this number will rise to 100,000 within three years, the charity warned.

The number of families in temporary accommodation rose eight per cent in the year to March 31 2017 - part of a 61 per cent rise over six years.

In the north of England, 56 per cent of councils responded further resources or provisions were needed to address rough sleeping in their areas. The number of people sleeping rough in the region was also reported to have risen by 59 per cent in the past year.

Bed and breakfast placements, which the report said are “often cramped, unsuitable, and sometimes even dangerous”, have been rising particularly quickly, and now stand 250 per cent higher than in 2009.

Some 89 per cent of local authorities reported difficulties finding suitable private rented accommodation, as rents rise and become increasingly unaffordable as local housing allowance levels remain frozen.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, the report’s lead author, said: “The options are narrowing for local authorities charged with preventing and resolving homelessness, as benefit-reliant households are entirely priced out of the private rented sector in some parts of the country.

“At the same time, homeless people’s access to a diminishing pool of social tenancies is increasingly constrained by landlord nervousness about letting to households whose incomes are now so very low that even properties let at social rents can be unaffordable to them.”

One council quoted in the report, said: “It is pretty much impossible to access the private rental sector. The cost of doing so is prohibitive and the solution is unsustainable because of the massive disparity between LHA rates and market rent.”

The annual report, by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, analysed evidence from 186 local authorities in England. The councils acted on more than 274,000 cases of homelessness in 2016/17, a rise of 34 per cent in six years and one per cent over the past year.

The “vast bulk” of the increase over the past few years is due to the sharply rising numbers made homeless from the private rented sector, the report said.

It said it was “beyond doubt” that statutory homelessness was now far more closely associated with ejection from the private rented sector than mortgage repossessions or by social sector rent arrears.

Virtually all local authorities that responded to the survey anticipated that a raft of prospective and ongoing welfare benefit freezes and restrictions would exacerbate homelessness in their area.