Government aims to end B&B for homeless families with children

The government launched a £125m drive to
tackle homelessness last week as latest figures reveal a 23 per
cent increase in the number of households in bed and breakfast

In More Than a Roof the homelessness
directorate, part of the Department for Transport, Local Government
and the Regions, pledges to stop English councils putting homeless
families with children in B&Bs by March 2004 – except in an

According to the latest homelessness
statistics, during the last three months of 2001, 78,620 households
were living in temporary accommodation, and of these 12,110 were in

More Than a Roof details the
directorate’s five key objectives: to increase help to people who
are homeless, or at risk of homelessness; to develop more strategic
approaches to tackling homelessness; to encourage new responses to
tackling homelessness; to sustain the two-thirds reduction in
numbers of rough sleepers; and to ensure opportunity of a decent
home for all.

Launching the strategy, DTLR secretary of
state Stephen Byers said: “The damage caused to those children [in
B&Bs] may live with them into adult life. Living in a cramped
room without anywhere to do their homework or play does not give
them the start in life they deserve.”

He added that the homelessness directorate
will investigate the underlying causes and trends of homelessness
and test innovative approaches to reducing and preventing the
problem. The directorate is due to present him with a progress
report in the autumn.

Byers added that guidance had been issued to
housing authorities to help children living in B&Bs gain fair
access to health checks.

Chris Holmes, director of homelessness charity
Shelter, said they welcomed the government’s commitment to end the
use of B&B and hoped the strategy would be followed by a “firm
commitment” from chancellor Gordon Brown in the forthcoming
comprehensive spending review.

Centrepoint chief executive Anthony Lawton
said: “It is vital that all young people and young adults affected
by homelessness are made a priority theme throughout [the

More than a Roof: A Report into
Tackling Homelessness
, from 0870 1226 236; Statutory
Homelessness: England Fourth Quarter 2001
, available from  

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