Homelessness cost councils over £1bn last year

Analysis of Government figures by the housing charity Shelter has revealed the amount being spent by councils on temporary accommodation for homeless households in England rose to over £1billion last year.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “These figures are a shocking, yet entirely preventable consequence of our housing emergency.” She called on the next government to commit to building at least 90,000 new social homes a year over the next parliament.

The figures also show:

  • Councils spent £1.1 billion on temporary accommodation for homeless households between April 2018 and March 2019;
  • This represents an increase of nine per cent in the last year and 78 per cent over the last five years;
  • More than 30 per cent of the total (£344 million) was spent on emergency B&Bs, which are some of the worst places for families with children to live;
  • Spending on B&Bs has increased by a staggering 111 per cent in the last five years, largely due to a shortage of affordable accommodation meaning councils have no choice but to use emergency B&Bs; and
  • The amount councils spent from their own budgets on temporary accommodation has increased by 123 per cent in the last five years, while central government grants for social housebuilding have been cut.

Polly Neate, added:

“If consecutive governments had built the genuinely affordable social homes that are needed, fewer people would be homeless, and we would not be wasting vast sums on unsuitable temporary accommodation.”

“What’s even more shameful is that so much of this public money is lining the pockets of unscrupulous private landlords, who can charge desperate councils extortionate rates for grim B&Bs, because there’s nowhere else for families to go. No family should have to live in a tiny room where there’s nowhere to even cook a meal, or any safe space for their children to play.”

Meanwhile the charity Centrepoint has estimated that more than 22,000 young people, aged 16 to 24, will be homeless or at risk of homelessness over the course of the Winter and are unlikely to feature in official statistics, such as those quoted above.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor