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A LIFE IN B&B BANISHED FOR THOUSANDS OF HOMELESS FAMILIES

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Thousands of homeless families with children are no longer facing a ...
Thousands of homeless families with children are no longer facing a

future in cramped bed and breakfast hotels, as the ODPM today announces that it has met its B&B target.

Figures published by the ODPM show a massive 99.3 per cent reduction

in the number of families originally living in B&B for more than six

weeks when the target was introduced two years ago.

Nearly 4,000 homeless families were living in B&Bs long term when the

target was announced in March 2002. The reductions achieved over the

last two years means that around 6,000 fewer children are now having

to live long term in B&B hotels.

The government has succeeded in reversing the long-running culture

among many local authorities of relying on B&Bs as long-term

accommodation for homeless families with children.

Local authorities will benefit, as B&B has always been the most

expensive form of temporary accommodation, placing a drain on

homelessness resources.

Minister for homelessness Jeff Rooker said:

'This is a tremendous achievement, and one which has changed the

lives of literally thousands of children across England.

'Childhoods spent in B&B can have a damaging impact on the health,

education and the development of children, as they are often forced

to spend time in cramped conditions with no space to play or do

homework.

'This would have been impossible without the government's B&B target.

If trends in temporary accommodation use had continued without the

target, there would now be between 8,500 and 9,700 families in B&B

long term at the end of March.

'I am particularly pleased that all London boroughs have met the

target. The use of B&B accommodation for families with children was

greatest and the pressure was highest in the capital.

'Local authorities across the whole of England are now making

reliance on B&B a thing of the past by preventing homelessness,

findi ng better forms of accommodation, and pursuing innovative ways

to offer families with children a better future.'

He continued:

'Government figures show that the number of homeless households -

families, single people and couples - being placed in B&Bs by local

authorities has dropped during the last five quarters: the first

time such a sustained reduction has been achieved for over a decade.

'This is also excellent news, but the hard work does not stop here.

We must continue working with local authorities and the voluntary

sector to prevent homelessness and reduce use of temporary

accommodation for all homeless people.'

Many of the local authorities which have now eradicated long-term B&B

use for families with children were those which previously relied on

it heavily.

For example, the London borough of Newham had 371 families with

children in B&Bs for more than six weeks in March 2002, while Ealing

had 236. Both these local authorities have brought these figures down

to zero, while also reducing the overall number of families with

children in B&Bs.

The ODPM granted local authorities across England£45 million in

2004/05 to deliver local homelessness strategies which tackle the

problem.

National homelessness charity Shelter has welcomed the achievement on

B&B. Shelter's director, Adam Samson, said:

'Meeting the target is a massive achievement, which has benefited

thousands of homeless families. This reduction in the number of

families in B&B could not have been achieved without the target, the

resources provided and the commitment of the government and the

local authorities to meet it.

'It is important now to move the agenda forward so that other people,

not covered by this target but still living in B&B, are not left

behind.'

Notes

1. A table showing a sample of former high-using bed and breakfast

local authorities in England is availa ble here.

2. The government's target states that, by 31 March 2004, local

authorities should ensure that no homeless family with children

should have to live in a bed and breakfast hotel, except in an

emergency, and then for no more than six weeks.

3. On 31 March 2004 there were 26 families still living in a B&B for

more than six weeks. Of these 23 have now been rehoused. In many

cases, these families were in B&B waiting for the most suitable

accommodation to become available. In these circumstances, delaying

the move would prevent the family moving twice in a short period of

time.

4. The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order

2003 came into force on 1 April 2004, to reinforce and sustain the

B&B target. The Order means that local authorities are no longer able

to discharge their homelessness duty to secure accommodation by

placing families with children in B&B for longer than six weeks.

5. The Order does not apply to authorities that are housing a family

under a discretionary power. For example, during a review or appeal

against a decision of the local authority that they are not owed a

homelessness duty. If authorities fail to comply with the Order,

their decision can be subject to review and then can be challenged in

the civil courts.

6. The Homelessness Act 2002 required each local authority in England

to produce a local homelessness strategy by July 2003. These

strategies set out how each local authority plans to address the

problem of homelessness in their area, and how they will work with

other agencies and the voluntary sector to adopt a partnership

approach to the issue.

7. A complete list of the final figures submitted by local

authorities for B&B use as at 31 March 2004 is available here.

8. Further informati on on government initiatives to tackle

homelessness is available at: www.odpm.gov.uk/homelessness

SAMPLE OF FORMER HIGH-USING B&B LOCAL AUTHORITIES IN ENGLAND (FWC =

families with children)

The columns show the comparison between December 2002 and March 2004,

figures for all families with children in B&Bs and, of those, how

many had been in a B&B for more than six weeks

Local Authority Region Dec 02 Dec 02 Mar 04 March 04

No. of No. in No. of No. in

FWC in B&B > 6 FWC in B&B > 6

B&B weeks B&B weeks

1. Newham London 482 371 30 0

2. Hammersmith & London 307 247 11 0

Fulham

3. Brent London 341 239 6 0

4. Ealing London 516 236 0 0

5. Hillingdon London 209 199 4 0

6. Croydon London 241 162 11 0

7. Lambeth London 193 161 0 0

8. Redbridge London 175 130 32 0

9. Kensington & London 130 120 0 0

Chelsea

10. Westminster London 151 105 52 0

11. Wandsworth London 150 99 6 0

12. Tower Hamlets London 142 91 17 0

13. Hounslow London 111 91 0 0

14. Enfield London 83 78 0 0

15. Camden London 90 77 7 0

16. Hackney London 133 58 0 0

17. Southwark London 80 54 0 0

18. Bournemouth South West 69 49 6 0

19. Salisbury South West 51 44 0 0

20. Penwith South West 45 38 1 0

21. Barnet London 83 37 0 0

22. Brighton & Hove 67 34 6 0

23. Northampton East 44 35 32 0

Midlands

24. Bromley London 78 33 0 0

25. Southend East 54 32 0 0

26. Haringey London 36 26 0 0

27. Christchurch South West 24 23 4 0

28. Exeter South West 30 22

29. South South West 26 21 0 0

Gloucestershire

30. Isle of Wight South East 29 20 4 0

31. Bristol South West 37 18 7 0

32. Sutton London 32 18 0 0

33. Islington London 22 18 0 0

34. Restormel South West 28 16 3 0

35. Bexley London 22 16 0 0

36. Elmbridge South East 17 15 20

37. Norwich Eastern 23 14 4 0

38. Richmond upon London 15 10 2 0

Thames

39. Medway Towns South East 16 9 0 0

40. Waltham Forest London 12 8 0 0

41. Plymouth South West 15 6 8 0

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