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Bed-and-Breakfast Accommodation: Young People

Volume 488: debated on Monday 2 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many children under 16 years are living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation; and what steps are being taken to reduce that number. (258158)

Information about English local housing authorities’ actions under the homelessness legislation (part 7 of the Housing Act 1996) is collected quarterly at local authority level. Data collected include the number of households accepted by local housing authorities as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and therefore owed a main homelessness duty (to secure that suitable accommodation is available). If a settled home is not immediately available, the authority must secure temporary accommodation until a settled home becomes available.

Information on the number of dependent children (and expected children) in bed-and-breakfast style temporary accommodation (i.e. bed-and-breakfast hotels and other privately managed shared facility annexes) is reported quarterly by local authorities as at the last day of each quarter. This figure includes all children under 16 years old, and dependent children aged 16 to 18. On the 30 September 2008, there were an estimated 1,570 dependent children in bed-and-breakfast style temporary accommodation.

We have taken action to tackle the worst aspects of temporary accommodation use—families with children who were placed in cramped bed-and-breakfast accommodation for long periods of time. The effect of the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003, which came into force on 1 April 2004, is that local authorities are no longer able to discharge their homelessness duty to secure suitable accommodation by placing households that include children or a pregnant woman in bed-and-breakfast accommodation except as a last resort and then for no longer than six weeks.

Furthermore, in 2005, we announced a target of reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation under the homelessness legislation. Following 12 consecutive quarters of decreases, the figure had fallen to 72,130 by the end of September 2008, and around 40 per cent. of local authorities have already met the target to halve the number of households in temporary accommodation by 2010.

We have provided over £200 million of homelessness funding to local authorities and the voluntary sector, to help them carry out this work.