Thousands of families across London are stuck in housing limbo for years on end, an investigtion by the housing and homelessness charity Shelter revealed yesterday (7 August).
Figures gathered from freedom of information requests show that over half of homeless families in participating boroughs have been in temporary accommodation for more than a year. Over 4,000, or 41 per cent, have been there for two years or more.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s appalling that in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, there are forgotten homeless children, hidden from view in temporary accommodation that offers them no stability and can be unsafe and in poor condition. And sadly, with more people struggling to make ends meet, we’re bracing ourselves for an increase in demand from families who desperately need our help.”
Bed and breakfast or hostel accommodation is only supposed to be used by councils in the very short term, when a permanent home cannot be found. However, an investigation by Labour in 2013 found that the borough of Westminster spent almost £85,000 a week housing families in 10 hotels, at a cost of almost £4.5 million a year. It also found the use of bed and breakfast accommodation to house homeless families for more than the legal limit of six weeks had risen by 800 per cent under the Coalition government.
Research from the Ministry of Justice, also released yesterday, shows a significant rise in evictions across the country, with possession claims from landlords rising almost 10 per cent. Shelter says this means even more families risk being forgotten in temporary housing.
The housing minister, Brandon Lewis said: “The numbers of households in temporary accommodation is well below the peak reached under the previous administration, which hit 101,000 in 2004. Households now spend on average eight months less in temporary accommodation than at the start of 2010.”
However, the Government's figures are based on records of people leaving temporary accommodation whereas those issued by Shelter show the numbers who have not been able to leave.