Time spent in temporary accommodation ensures no family is without a roof over their head. The Government is assisting areas to ensure that families spend no longer than 6 weeks in B&Bs, which includes protecting and maintaining the homelessness prevention funding at £315 million. We have also replaced Department of Work and Pension’s Temporary Accommodation Management Fee with a Flexible Homelessness Support Grant which local authorities can use more strategically to prevent and tackle homelessness. This amounts to £402 million over the two years from 2017/18.
While the number of households in temporary accommodation is below the 2004 peak, the law is clear that households with dependent children should only be accommodated in B&B in an emergency and for no longer than six weeks, which commences when the household moves in.
Local authorities have a duty to ensure that any accommodation provided for a homeless household under the homelessness legislation must be suitable.
Part B (Fire safety) of the Building Regulations sets requirements for fire safety where building work takes place, typically including the erection, extension or alteration of a building. Guidance is issued by the Secretary of State in Approved Documents, specifically Approved Document B (Fire Safety) Volume 1 (dwellinghouses) and Volume 2 (Buildings other than dwellinghouses).
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 also applies to premises that provide sleeping accommodation, other than where they are a private home. The Fire Safety Order requires a ‘responsible person’ (usually the owner, employer or landlord) to carry out and review regularly a fire risk assessment of a premises to ensure adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to manage the risk that lives could be lost in the event of a fire.
The Government has produced guidance to help those with fire safety responsibilities in sleeping accommodation to comply with the provisions of the Fire Safety Order – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fire-safety-risk-assessment-sleeping-accommodation. The extent to which the fire protection measures in place in any particular building comply with these provisions is a matter for the responsible person’s risk assessment.
DCLG publishes regular statistics on rough sleeping, statutory homelessness, temporary accommodation and homelessness prevention and relief, including the numbers of households in B&B for over 6 weeks. These are published at national, London and local authority level. The latest statistics can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/homelessness-statistics.