Communities secretary Ruth Kelly has pledged to end the use of bed and breakfast hotels for homeless 16- and 17-year-olds in England by 2010, “unless it is an emergency”.
In the week that marks the 40th anniversary of landmark BBC TV homelessness drama Cathy Come Home, Kelly unveiled a range of measures and a 12 per cent increase in funding for next year.
Supported lodgings schemes, which provide foster-style accommodation for homeless young people, are to be established across the country in an attempt to reduce the need for B&Bs.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) would like to see “good progress” in developing the schemes within 12 to 18 months, said a spokesperson.
And universal access to mediation schemes is intended to help prevent young people being forced to leave their parental home in the first place – currently the biggest single cause of homelessness in the country.
Kelly also announced plans to improve 70 hostels for homeless people by 2008 through the Hostels Capital Improvement Programme. The government says the scheme has already transformed 25 hostels by introducing skills training for residents.
A DCLG spokesperson said the B&B pledge went beyond the homelessness code of guidance as it was a commitment. Published in August, the guidance states that temporary accommodation should be used for 16- and 17-year-olds only as a last resort.
Homeless Link chief executive Jenny Edwards said supported lodgings and mediation schemes had already proved their value where they are currently offered.