Research shows that over a third of families living in B&B’s have been living in this style of accommodation for longer than the six week limit.
There are 2,090 families living in this form of emergency housing, which is an 8% of increase on 2012 figures. The use of bed and breakfast accommodation has been rising since 2009, however legislation stipulates that this type of accommodation should be avoided for families. If families do find themselves in B&B’s they should be there for no longer than six weeks.
Research by charity, Shelter, has shown that 760 of 2,090 families have been living in B&B’s since June, which is a 10% increase on last year. Over 43,000 homeless households with children were living in other forms of temporary accommodation, which is a 9% increase on last year. Families in emergency accommodation fell between 2005 and 2010 due to government commitment to halve the number by 2010, but they have risen again since June 2011, reports the Guardian.
Shelter interviewed 25 families who were either living or had recently been living in B&B’s and discovered that most felt unsafe. Nearly half said that their children had witnessed disturbing incidents, which included threats of violence, sexual offences and drug use.
“One of the reasons we left was one of the residents trying to sell us crack cocaine,” a mother of three told the charity.
Twenty-two families said that it was difficult to find a safe place for their children to play. Twelve had to share kitchen facilities and three had no cooking facilities. Two-thirds of families interviewed said that their children had no table to eat on and over half had to share a bathroom or toilet with strangers.
Many said that their children’s health had suffered through this type of living. “It’s so hard to give him a balanced diet as it’s impossible to make proper meals here,” a mother said.
“I try to cook because it’s cheaper. but I can’t put stuff in the fridge because it’s too small so I can’t use fresh stuff. I’m using stuff in tins all the time,” said another.
Campbell Robb, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “Our shocking findings have uncovered the shameful conditions homeless children will be living in this Christmas. Parents and children sharing beds, children forced to eat on the floor and being threatened with violence in the place they live. This shouldn’t be happening in 21st-century Britain.”
Kris Hopkins, the housing minister said: “We’ve given councils nearly £1bn to tackle homelessness and to support people affected by the welfare reforms, so I am very clear that they should be fully able to meet their legal responsibility to house families in suitable accommodation. Families should only be placed in bed and breakfast accommodation in an emergency, and even then for no more than six weeks. The funding we’ve given, and our change in the law to enable families to be placed in suitable, affordable private rented homes, means there is no excuse for councils to breach this.”