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Temporary accommodation rates rocket outside of London

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There has been a staggering explosion in the number of households placed in temporary accommodation over the past year with the North West and the Midlands facing huge levels of growth, LGC analysis of the latest government data has found.

Within the space of a year, the number of households in temporary accommodation rocketed by almost 40% in the North West, a third (34%) in the East Midlands and 21% in the West Midlands. Conversely, there was a -2% reduction in the North East while London saw the smallest increase, although the number of the capital’s households in temporary accommodation already accounts for 70% of the England total of 77,240 in March 2017.

A lack of social and affordable housing, including in the private rented sector, were among the most common causes for increases identified by councils LGC contacted. Many told LGC that the shortage of suitable homes meant households were spending longer living in temporary accommodation. 

Faye Greaves, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The growth in the use of temporary accommodation outside of London suggests some of the issues we have traditionally seen affect the capital are beginning to spread across other areas of England. House prices and private rents continue to grow in many parts of England while wages have remained stagnant. A lack of genuinely affordable housing means more people are finding it difficult to afford housing in their area.”

Percentage change in the number of households in temporary accommodation between 31 March 2016 and 31 March 2017
Region Percentage change
North West 39
East Midlands 34
West Midlands 21
East of England 17
Yorkshire and Humber 17
South East 12
South West 9
London 4
North East -2

The Department for Communities & Local Government collects a snapshot of the number of households that are in temporary accomdation on the last day of March every year. Nationally there was an increase of 8% between March 2016 and March 2017. 

LGC’s analysis found 177 of the 326 councils with housing responsibilities witnessed increases in households placed in temporary accommodation over the period.  

Of those, 16 councils saw the number of households in temporary accommodation double at the very least. East Staffordshire BC witnessed the biggest increase proportionally - 360% - although the actual numerical change was small, from five to 23 households.

The biggest numerical increases were in Newham LBC (up 501 households to 4,457), Manchester (up 495 to 1,145), and Southwark (up 464 to 1,805).

Southwark LBC’s cabinet member for housing Stephanie Cryan (Lab) said the council was seeking to place people “just outside the borough” as it was “becoming increasingly difficult” to house people due to “a real shortage” of affordable temporary accommodation. 

Fifty years ago Milton Keynes was created to tackle a housing shortage. Within the last year it has seen the number of households in temporary accommodation increase from 433 to 754 – a 74% increase - in part due to landlords in the private sector pushing up rents.

Nigel Long (Lab), cabinet member for health, wellbeing and adults, said it was “stupid” for the government to retain the housing revenue account borrowing cap.

“Unlike other councils we have got huge amounts of land that could be developed if we were allowed to borrow to build,” Cllr Long told LGC.

Councils are preparing to implement the Homelessness Reduction Act which extends housing assistance beyond the most vulnerable people and also provides a duty to help people from 56 days before they would become homeless. Experts have warned the government it will need to fully fund councils if the legislation is to reduce homelessness.

However, Cllr Long said it would result in “a lot more people” being placed in temporary accommodation as the bill “doesn’t tackle the fundamental problem of a lack of affordable housing”.

LGC’s analysis did find, however, 91 councils had managed to reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation. Of those who reduced their numbers the most, seven of the top 10 were London boroughs.

There were 57 councils which either had no change or the numbers were so small they were excluded from calculations.

To access LGC’s interactive map click on the image below

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