The Essex area shared by millionaires and families struggling in bed and breakfast temporary accommodation

An Essex area home to millionaires is also being shared by families struggling in temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfasts. The district of Southend-on-Sea in Essex had the second-highest number of households in B&Bs according to official figures.

Families deemed to be homeless and in need of accommodation from local authorities can find themselves temporarily housed in B&Bs. The number of households living in B&Bs in Essex has been on the rise under the Tory government, but particularly since the pandemic.

In Southend-on-Sea there were 309 total households in temporary accommodation, including 73 in B&Bs. That was beaten only by Tendring, where 76 households are staying in B&Bs.

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Last year there were 53 properties sold in Southend-on-Sea for more than £1m according to Land Registry data. A total of 16 had been sold for more than £1.5m and, at the time of writing, there are 25 properties on sale through Zoopla who are available for more than £1m.

It means that families who struggle to find funds to afford a fixed roof over their head, instead forced to turn to temporary accommodation, are sharing an Essex district with millionaires.

Basildon (666) had the highest number of households in temporary accommodation, followed by Chelmsford (442) and Thurrock (403). Tendring was where the highest number of households with children are staying in B&Bs (31) whereas there were 29 in Southend-on-Sea.

Families deemed homeless can be temporarily housed in B&Bs but Government targets say this should be for no more than six weeks. Despite this though, in the last three months of 2023, a total of 42 families with children in Essex had been housed in B&Bs for over six weeks, according to the latest figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

That’s up from 36 families between July and September, 20 families in the last three months of 2022 and just one family at the end of 2019. Nationally a total of 2,960 families with children had been housed in B&Bs for over six weeks across England in the last three months of 2023.

The latest national figures aren’t a record high. The figures on the number of families living in B&Bs for over six weeks were first published in 2002, when Tony Blair’s Labour party was in power.

Between October and December that year, a total of 3,050 families with children had been in B&Bs for over six weeks. That’s still the highest on record. The number quickly dropped though, and by the first quarter of 2004, just 30 families with children had been living in B&Bs for over six weeks. The highest it ever got after that, until the Tories came to power, was 180 in the second quarter of 2008.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “The Government cannot stand idly by while a generation of children have their lives blighted by homelessness. Decades of failure to build enough genuinely affordable social homes has left families struggling to cobble together extortionate sums every month to keep a roof over their heads.

"Those who can’t afford private rents are being thrown into homelessness and then left for months and even years in damaging temporary accommodation because there is nowhere else. With a General Election approaching, it’s time for all politicians to show voters they are serious about ending the housing emergency.

"To dramatically reduce homelessness, we need every party to commit to building 90,000 social homes a year for ten years, and an overhaul of the Renters (Reform) Bill so that it delivers genuine safety and security for private renters."

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesperson said: "We want everyone to have a safe place to call home, which is why we’re giving councils £1.2 billion so that they can give financial support to those who need it, helping them to find a new home and move out of temporary accommodation. At the same time, we’ve boosted the local housing allowance, giving the 1.6 million private renters in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit an additional £800 to help towards rental costs.

"The Government is providing total support of £104 billion over 2022-2025 – an average of £3,700 per UK household - to help households with the high cost of living."

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