Councils support bid to limit use of B&B accommodation

Local government last week welcomed an initiative to cut the
number of homeless families in temporary bed and breakfast
accommodation throughout England.

The bed and breakfast unit will be set up by the Department of
the Environment, Transport and the Regions in the summer.

It aims to provide advice and support to local authorities, and
work with them to avoid the use of B&Bs if possible. It will
have five to eight staff drawn from housing practitioners and civil
servants, and the unit will have a two-year lifespan.

The use of B&B accommodation is not a national problem, the
DETR says, although the unit will cover all English authorities.
Figures published in December 2000 show that of the 36 authorities
with 50 or more homeless households in B&B accommodation, 34
were in London and the south of England, while only two were in the

While backing the initiative, the Local Government Association
said the buoyancy of the housing market meant many councils had
little alternative but to use B&Bs.

“The growth of bed and breakfast and the high levels of homeless
families in temporary accommodation highlights the shortage of
affordable housing,” said councillor Paul Bettison, LGA housing
executive chair. “Many local authoritiesÉhave worked hard to
raise the standards of their bed and breakfast accommodation and
develop innovative alternatives to B&Bs.”

The Association of London Government said that more than 49,000
households were placed in temporary accommodation in London by
local authorities under their homelessness duties. Of these, over
10,000 are in B&Bs or hotel annexes.

“We have already put to ministers a number of specific proposals
for reducing dependence on bed and breakfast accommodation and we
look forward to working closely with the proposed unit to deal with
this urgent problem,” said councillor Tony Newman, ALG housing
panel chairperson.

“Housing families in bed and breakfast [accommodation] is good
for no one; it is expensive, it is inadequate and it has
unacceptable long-term effects,” said housing minister Nick
Raynsford, launching the initiative.

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