Young people suffer from housing priorities for families

    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
    vulnerable groups.

    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

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