Councils Placing Families in B&Bs Unlawfully, as Homelessness Problem Grows

According to statistics on the homeless in the UK, over 2,500 children are illegally housed in bed and breakfast establishments.

The statistics illustrate that 1,300 families that included children staying in B&Bs over 6 weeks which is a 24% increase compared to last year.

The law states that councils may only house families in B&Bs when left with no other choice, and even at that, for a duration no longer than six weeks. B&Bs are not equipped for cooking and laundry, and also lack space and privacy.

The problem is that councils are recognizing and increasing amount of families as homeless, which makes finding proper accommodation increasingly difficult.

The statistics show that 117,000 children, whom are part of 74,630 families, are placed in temporary homes in England. Approximately one third of these households are placed in temporary accommodation away from their areas. By far, most of these families are from London. The main cause of homelessness was eviction.

A charity called Shelter has argued that real figures relating to homelessness are downplayed and that it is a bigger issue than the government makes it out to be.

Another NGO, The Chartered Institute of Housing, said that homelessness is increasing.

London councils have resorted to putting families in Travelodge hotels, buying small housing units, and buying homes in other boroughs.

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The government’s benefit cuts forcing up cost of housing in wealthy areas

The government’s clampdown on benefits is forcing up, rather than cutting, the cost of housing low-income families in wealthy areas, as people are shifted into hotels and bed and breakfasts, according to new figures obtained for the Observer.

Charities are also reporting a chain of misery and chaos as children are forced to move schools, and parents have to spend much of their time ferrying them large distances to classes.

Data obtained through freedom of information requests shows that at Westminster council – one of the wealthiest areas in the country – the bill for homelessness has shot up by 63.5% since last year as new temporary accommodation has had to be found for those hit by cuts. The figures show that it has cost Westminster more to place thousands of people in temporary accommodation, including hotels, than the council has saved through the government’s welfare clampdown.

The council says it cut “around £40m” from its costs, thanks to the introduction in 2011 of restrictions to housing benefit. However, replies to FOI requests obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism show that it has cost the council £135.83m to rehouse homeless people since 2009.

The council’s bill for housing vulnerable families in temporary accommodation this financial year alone is estimated to be £41.8m, compared with £25.5m last year.

With average monthly rents in London reaching £1,100, a rise of 8% in the last year, new figures released by the government last week showed that the number of households made homeless in England in the financial year to March 2013 has hit 53,540 – a 6% average increase on the previous year and a 16% increase in the capital.

Alarmingly, rents are now rising so fast in London that charities are seeing people who found new homes after being evicted in the first round of benefit cuts being made homeless again as costs soar.

From The Guradian, Sat 8th June, 2013