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Temporary accommodation numbers are at another record high, here are some of the short-term solutions

  • 4 min read |
  • Posted by Emma
  • On 10 December 2023

There are now 105,750 households in temporary accommodation (TA) including 139,840 children; a new high since records began 25 years ago, breaking the record that had previously been set at the end of March 2023, and in December 2022 before then.

These shocking figures were published alongside the disappointing news that only 9,500 social homes have been built in the past 12 months. This is in spite of mounting pressure on the government from councils, campaigners and MPs, to deliver bold but necessary action to tackle the TA emergency and prevent more lives being blighted by unsafe and unacceptable experiences of TA.

While we are relieved the government finally answered the call to unfreeze housing benefit in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, this is not a silver bullet and must be implemented alongside a suite of other solutions. In this analysis of the latest TA statistics, we will also explore some of the solutions we believe would help alleviate the hardship people endure in TA, as well as the pressures on local authorities.

Rising number of people in B&Bs

The number of households living in B&B accommodation has increased by 37.6% in the past year to 14,090 households. 4,480 of these are households with children, up 93.1% on last year. The reality of daily life in a B&B is typically described as chaotic, overcrowded, disruptive and lacking in basic facilities. Living with strangers and sharing communal spaces can take its toll on people’s mental health, while the absence of minimum standards can contribute to a decline in physical health.

For adults and children alike, a B&B is not a home. Research by Professor Monica Lakhanpaul shows that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as those experienced in TA, can have a lasting impact on a child’s health and academic performance, and therefore their life chances. Living in a B&B, without the space or facilities needed to thrive, is incredibly detrimental, yet of these 4,480 households with children, 2,510 had been resident for more than the statutory limit of 6 weeks, up 146.1% from last year.

The obvious cause of this is the deficit in social housing, but frozen LHA has been a key driver of homelessness and a barrier to moving away from it for years. Although we welcome the announcement that LHA will rise to cover 30% of market rents, we agree with Generation Rent that it is only a “temporary reprieve” if it is frozen again in April 2024. Given that rent levels are projected to continue rising, we support the calls for LHA rates to be permanently linked to changes in rents.

The impact of delaying the ban to Section 21 no-fault evictions

It's high time the government ends the delay on the Renter's Reform Bill. With every day the Bill, and in particular its ban on Section 21 “no-fault” evictions, is delayed, more people are pushed into homelessness and temporary accommodation. 6,640 households were threatened with homelessness due to the service of a Section 21 notice from January to March 2023, an increase of 10.3% from the same quarter last year. Every household that has experienced the distress of eviction and the risk of homelessness is one that could have been protected by the Bill. For those that do become homeless following a Section 21 notice, the severe lack of social housing leaves people with no choice but to move into TA, much of which is unsuitable and, increasingly, out-of-area.

Over a quarter of temporary accommodation placements are out of area

A staggering 27,980 households (26.5% of all households) were placed in temporary accommodation in a different local authority district to the one where they presented as homeless. 79.5% of these out-of-area placements were from London local authorities.

In our research with people affected by these placements, we found that being uprooted miles away from support networks, schools, jobs and communities had a devastating impact on people’s lives; not only do people lose their homes, they also lose proximity to everything that helps them feel safe. This can lead to them becoming disconnected from the services they accessed in their home area. In one case, reported in the i, someone recounted having to choose between moving across the country or losing access to state support.

Without support to connect with local services and settle into a new community, people can slip through the cracks. As recommended by the Households in TA APPG report, a notification system would ensure that, at the point a household registers as homeless, support services are informed in that local area. This places the onus on systems to share information, rather than people experiencing homelessness.

No one should be left with so few options, yet as homelessness numbers soar, housing options dwindle. As Crisis says, we need a “major programme of social house building – with at least 90,000 built a year”, but this will take time. Alongside this, the government should also examine what they can introduce in the short term to make TA a safer and healthier experience for the 105,750 households stuck there right now. The APPG’s 7-point policy plan is where we would start.