Plans to make local authorities liable to legal action or fines if
they put families in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than
six weeks have been condemned by the Local Government
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s consultation on temporary
housing is expected to inform a housing bill later this year. A key
proposal is to legislate to ban councils from using B&Bs for
families and to open them to legal action if they persist in doing
Although some charities and the Chartered Institute of Housing have
responded positively, the LGA said the proposals were unfairly
punitive and contrary to the spirit of the Homelessness Act
Senior project officer Ruth Lucas said local authorities recognised
that B&Bs were not ideal for families and were committed to
meeting the target of banning B&B use for families by 2004.
But she added: “Enshrining that target in legislation sets an
unwelcome precedent. Local authorities can’t control many of the
factors involved, and an outright ban raises questions about what
happens if there is nowhere else to put people.
“The danger is that local authorities will narrow their eligibility
criteria to enable them to meet the target.
“We would argue that spending precious resources on fighting court
challenges is not a good way of ensuring homeless people get the
help they need.”