Over £1 billion being spent on temporary accommodation for homeless

A leading charity has described as “shocking” figures showing that councils spent more than £1 billion on temporary accommodation for homeless households in England in the past year.

Shelter said almost a third of that amount was spent on emergency bed and breakfast accommodation.

The total amount of money has increased by almost a tenth in the past year and 78% in the last five years, said Shelter.

The charity said there is a shortage of affordable accommodation, so local authorities have little choice but to use emergency B&Bs.

Chief executive Polly Neate (pictured) said: “These figures are a shocking yet entirely preventable consequence of our housing emergency. If consecutive governments had built the genuinely affordable social homes that are needed, fewer people would be homeless, and we would not be wasting vast sums on unsuitable temporary accommodation.

“What’s even more shameful is that so much of this public money is lining the pockets of unscrupulous private landlords, who can charge desperate councils extortionate rates for grim B&Bs, because there’s nowhere else for families to go.

“No family should have to live in a tiny room where there’s nowhere to even cook a meal, or any safe space for their children to play.

“This is a crisis we cannot allow politicians to ignore during this election. Social housing must be at the heart of every manifesto, and all parties must to commit to at least 90,000 new social homes a year over the next parliament. If they don’t, all of us will pay an even higher price.”

David Renard, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, said: “Every instance of homelessness is an individual tragedy and councils are determined to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place and support those affected.

“Since 2017, local authorities have been housing more than 200,000 people in temporary accommodation, including in bed and breakfasts, hostels and private rented accommodation, with over half of them children.

“A lack of affordable housing has left many councils struggling to cope with a rising number of people coming to them for help and are having to place more families and households into temporary and emergency accommodation as a result.

“That is why alongside building more affordable homes, the next government needs to put in place a long-term sustainable funding solution if we are to reduce homelessness.”

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