Use of B&Bs casts doubt on ability of Welsh councils to meet targets

There are new fears that Welsh councils will struggle to meet  targets to halve the use of B&B accommodation for homeless people.

While English and Scottish councils have cut the number of vulnerable people living in B&Bs and the length of time they stay there, Welsh councils appear to be moving in the opposite direction.

Figures just published by Gwynedd Council, which covers rural, coastal and urban communities, show the number of families accommodated in B&Bs rose from six to 30 in 2004-5, while the amount it spends on this more than doubled to £510,000. Similar increases have also been recorded in Powys.

Campaigners say the figures call into question the ability of some Welsh councils to meet the Welsh assembly’s proposed revised national homelessness strategy target of halving the number of households in B&Bs by April 2007, and to reduce the average time they spend there by 20 per cent by April 2008.

Carl Chapple, development officer at Homeless Link Cymru, said: “This will present significant challenges to some authorities.” He warned that when rules prioritising access to long-term housing for certain vulnerable groups come into force next April, “you might expect to see increases in B&B use among non-priority groups”.

John Pritchard, policy manager at Shelter Cymru, said councils were struggling because they had developed a reliance on B&Bs. He added: “I suspect some won’t meet the 50 per cent target – it might be more of a problem for rural areas because they have fewer housing options.”

Campaign groups have warned the assembly that the proposed target to reduce the number of homeless people over the next four years by 10 per cent could result in councils introducing “enhanced gatekeeping” of homelessness services to meet the target.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.