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Bed-and-Breakfast Accommodation

Volume 587: debated on Monday 10 November 2014

5. What estimate he has made of the number of children living in bed- and-breakfast accommodation; and if he will make a statement. (905952)

We have invested more than £500 million to prevent and tackle homelessness. Homelessness statistics reported by local councils are published by the Department and they show that 3,670 children were in bed-and-breakfast accommodation on 30 June.

Slough council made strenuous efforts to avoid the use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation for children, and before 2010 it had abolished it. However, I estimate that in the past two years some 60 children have been placed in bed-and-breakfast accommodation in this area of high housing need. Will the Minister meet the Under-Secretary of State for Education, the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mr Timpson), who has responsibility for children, to discuss how we can avoid using bed-and-breakfast accommodation for children? They do not learn how to eat at a table and are often pushed out of their homes during the day and end up in expensive cafés. What is the Minister going to do to end this situation?

First of all, we already do meet as a ministerial group. The number of homeless acceptances has dropped by 2% this year. There are eight people in bed-and-breakfast accommodation in Slough and nobody has been in those bed and breakfasts for more than six weeks.

Earlier this year the Minister told the House that the number of homeless families with children in bed-and-breakfast accommodation had dropped compared with the previous year and that that was

“a direct consequence of this Government’s intervention”.—[Official Report, 30 June 2014; Vol. 583, c. 588.]

Since then, however, the Government have released figures that show that the number has, in fact, increased to a 10-year high. Given that the Minister took credit for the fall in the numbers, will he now take responsibility for the increase? Crucially, what is he going to do to help those families with children?

The number of families with children in bed-and-breakfast accommodation has dropped by a third since Labour was in power, the peak being in 2002. We have put in a significant amount of money where there are issues in councils, and we have reduced bed-and-breakfast acceptances by some 96% where we have intervened.