Pressure on councils to move families out of bed and breakfast
accommodation has taken attention away from 16- and 17-year-olds
living in similar conditions, homeless charities have warned,
writes Shirley Kumar.
Centrepoint said that councils were reshuffling priority groups
following the introduction in April of the six-week time limit on
housing families in B&B accommodation, and may have been
prevented from looking for suitable alternatives for other
The charity believes placing 16- to 17-year-olds in B&B
accommodation could place this vulnerable group at “serious
risk of abuse”, and is calling for the government to set
targets to end the practice.
The call follows publication of official statistics for the first
quarter of 2004, which include the number of single vulnerable
people placed in B&Bs.
At least 17 councils have been identified as placing more than 100
vulnerable people, including 16-17 year-olds, in B&Bs since
January this year.
The worst London councils include Westminster (513), Lambeth (347,
of whom 84 are 16- or 17-year-olds) and Camden (297). Outside
London, Brighton and Hove has 200 (26 of whom are 16 and 17
year-olds), Bristol has 178, and Redbridge has 133 (of whom 16 are
16- or 17-year-olds).
Centrepoint is also calling for housing departments to work more
closely with the voluntary sector and social service departments to
ensure the needs of the vulnerable are met because the process
“is patchy in some areas”.
Director of services Rebecca Pritchard said that although the
Children’s Act 1989 required social services to undertake
child in need assessments, and the Homelessness Act 2002 stated
that homeless 16- and 17 year-olds should be considered priority
for rehousing by councils, “a lack of co-ordination between
the departments could lead to homeless 16- and 17-year-olds being
passed from pillar to post and straight into the cycle of
Crisis, which is due to launch its Hidden Homeless report later
this month, added: “Whilst 16- to 17-year-olds are a
particularly vulnerable group, it would be important that a target
to reduce the number of single homeless people staying in B&Bs
be extended to cover all of those affected by this