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Homeless Children: Bed-and-Breakfast Accommodation

Volume 730: debated on Monday 27 March 2023

16. What steps he is taking to reduce the number of homeless children placed in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. (904323)

The Government have been clear that the long-term use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation for families with children is inappropriate and unlawful. We will continue to work with local authorities to limit its use, and we are giving councils £654 million through the homelessness prevention grant for 2023 to 2025 to help them prevent homelessness.

I thank the Minister for her response, but the reality for a constituent of mine is very difficult. My constituent has been stuck in a Travelodge for seven months with his wife, a wheelchair user, and two sons. One son is autistic and has been increasingly distressed at constantly changing rooms. The number of families living in B&Bs for more than six weeks has increased by 180% in London in a year, as councils struggle to find affordable accommodation for families on benefits. Can the Government commit to uprating local housing allowance at least by the rate of inflation?

I am sorry to hear about the circumstances of the hon. Member’s constituent, and I am happy to talk in detail. There are currently 1,200 families in B&B accommodation for over six weeks. As I have said, we think that is inappropriate. We have made it clear to local authorities that B&Bs are a last resort, and they are an interim measure to more stable accommodation.

Every year since 2011, the number of children in temporary accommodation has risen—we are talking about well over 120,000 children without a home to call their own. It is a form of homelessness that is out of sight, out of mind and on the rise under this Tory Government—thousands of children stuck in bed and breakfasts for longer than the statutory maximum of six weeks. What do Ministers intend to do about the shocking numbers of homeless children in temporary accommodation, and when? May I remind the Minister that they are in charge of the parliamentary schedule for as long as they have left in government?

Homelessness and rough sleeping is one of the biggest priorities of this Government. We are devoting £2 billion over three years to alleviate homelessness and rough sleeping. This is a major priority of ours. Every family and child deserve to live in decent, secure and safe housing. That is why we have helped half a million people since the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 came in to prevent homelessness. We have spent £366 million this year on the homelessness prevention grant and £654 million over the next two years. The Government are committed to getting people out of temporary accommodation and into long-term, stable accommodation.