Homeless households in temporary accommodation (England) - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 12 December 2013 | Standard notes SN02110

Authors: Wendy Wilson

Topic: Homelessness, Housing

The number of homeless households placed in bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation by English local authorities reached 13,550 in September 1991. This figure fell during the early to mid-1990s to under 5,000 by the end of 1993. The numbers started rising again after 1996, prompting the Labour Government to announce specific initiatives to try and tackle this issue. In particular, on 13 March 2002 the then Government gave a commitment to ensure that, by March 2004, no family with children would have to live in a B&B except in an emergency and for no more than six weeks.

This note provides background to the increase in numbers in temporary accommodation and outlines various initiatives to reduce those numbers. The Labour Government’s aim was to half the number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation by 2010 (from a baseline of 101,000 set in 2004). For information on wider Government initiatives to tackle homelessness see Library standard note SN/SP/1164, Homelessness in England.

Statistics published in December 2011 marked the end of the long-term downward trend in the number of households in temporary accommodation; seasonally-adjusted figures had fallen in each successive quarter since peaking in 2004. The increased numbers placed in temporary accommodation reflects an overall increase in homeless applications and acceptances. In addition, the number of families with dependent children and/or pregnant women placed in B&B style accommodation increased from 630 at the end of March 2010 to 2,100 at the end of September 2013. For an overview of statistical indicators see Homelessness: Social Indicators (SN/SG/2646).

April/May 2012 saw media reports of local authorities in London seeking to place homeless families in temporary housing some distance from the Capital. Following consultation the Government published additional statutory guidance in November 2012.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) took over responsibility for housing matters from the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR) in 2002. On the disbandment of the ODPM in 2006, housing matters became the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG).

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