430% increase in B&B spend for people who are homeless, LGA finds | News

430% increase in B&B spend for people who are homeless, LGA finds

Rising numbers of people who are homeless are being placed in bed and breakfasts due to a severe shortage of housing meaning councils are being forced to spend over five times as much money on accommodation as they were a decade ago, new analysis by the Local Government Association has revealed.

Latest figures show councils in England spent £142m placing homeless households in bed and breakfasts in 2019/20, compared with £26.7m in 2010/11 – a 430% increase.

Currently, there are 10,510 households in bed and breakfasts, according to provisional data, compared with 2,310 a decade ago – more than a 350% increase.

Councils say this underlines the desperate need to build more social housing.

As the country recover from the pandemic, the LGA wants to work even more closely with government to tackle the current housing shortage and is calling for councils to be given “further powers and resources to build 100,000 social homes for rent each year.”

With previous LGA analysis showing council housing waiting lists “could double as a result of the pandemic”, giving councils these new powers would “help the Government to meet a third of its annual housing target and reduce homelessness,” councils say.

By reforming Right to Buy so that councils can retain 100% of receipts, have flexibility to combine Right to Buy receipts with other government grants and be able to set the size of discounts locally, councils “could go even further,” they say.

Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said: “Sadly, these figures reflect the scale of the housing challenges that our country faces. Councils will only use bed and breakfasts as a last resort, but the severe lack of suitable housing means they now have no choice.

“This is hugely disruptive to families with children, and the rising demand for support has come with soaring costs for councils.

“Throughout the pandemic government has trusted councils to get on with the job of protecting the nation, supporting people and putting infrastructures in place to help with recovery. We want to continue this momentum and work with government to tackle the shortage of housing and build the homes the country desperately needs.

“With the right funding and freedoms, councils can help government achieve its ambitions for our national recovery from the pandemic. Giving councils the powers to build council housing on the scale required, would go a significant way towards reducing homelessness and the need to place households in bed and breakfasts.”