Households and children in temporary accommodation at record numbers

The numbers of households and children in temporary accommodation in England have hit new record highs in figures that have been branded “shameful”, while the level of social housing being built has been described as a “disgrace”.

The latest statistics show that 105,750 households were in temporary accommodation at the end of June, up from 104,540 at the end of March.

The figure is a new high since records began 25 years ago and an increase of 10.5% compared with the end of June last year.

POLITICS Homelessness
(PA Graphics)

The total number of children in temporary accommodation – a measure which was first recorded in 2004 – was 138,930, up from 131,500 at the end of March.

Housing charity Shelter said the figure for children in temporary accommodation is “yet another shameful record in the housing emergency”.

Other figures published on Thursday showed there were less than 9,000 new-build homes for social rent in the latest financial year – with housing charities saying this is nowhere near the level of need to tackle homelessness.

Figures, published on Thursday by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), also show that a total of 73,660 households were assessed as needing help from their local authority due to being homeless or threatened with homelessness.

Some 34,850 households were assessed as being threatened with homelessness, up 1.5% from the same quarter last year, the department said.

Of these, 6,640 households were threatened with homelessness due to a Section 21 notice – also known as a no-fault eviction notice.

POLITICS Homelessness
(PA Graphics)

This was up by 10.3% from the same quarter last year.

The Government has promised to ban Section 21 notices through the Renters Reform Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, but has faced criticism for not giving a firm timeframe for when these will be scrapped.

The figures showed 38,810 households were initially assessed as homeless and therefore owed help by their local authority to find accommodation – up 6.9% from the same quarter last year.

Households with children owed this help, known as a relief duty, rose 6.5% from the same quarter last year to 10,670 households in April to June 2023, the department said.

The number of households with children living in bed and breakfasts has almost doubled compared with the same time last year, soaring from 2,320 at the end of June 2022, to 4,480 at the end of June this year.

Of all the households in temporary accommodation, 14,090 were living in B&Bs, up by more than a third (37.6%) from the same time last year, the department said.

Of those in B&B accommodation, 9,610 (68.2%) were single households, up 21.3% from the same time last year.

By law, B&Bs are only meant to be used for families in an emergency, and for no longer than six weeks.

But the latest figures show that, of the households with children in B&Bs, 2,510 had been living there for more than six weeks, up from 1,020 at the same time last year.

Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said: “Today we’ve hit yet another shameful record in the housing emergency, with nearly 139,000 children now facing spending Christmas without a safe and secure place to call home.”

She blamed “decades of failure to build enough social homes combined with record-high private rents” and said many are facing “months or even years in temporary accommodation, where their lives are stuffed into cardboard boxes and they can be forced to move at the drop of a hat”.

Tom Darling, campaign manager for the Renters’ Reform Coalition, described the latest statistics as “stark” and said they are “yet another reminder of the urgency of abolishing Section 21 evictions – which are a key driver of homelessness, as well as a source of constant insecurity for millions of tenants.”

Separate figures showed that 63,605 affordable homes were completed across England in the year to March 2023, which the Government said is a rise of 7% on the previous 12 months and the highest delivery since 2014-15.

Of these, just under two thirds (64%) were for rent, including social, affordable and intermediate rent.

But the National Housing Federation (NHF) highlighted a “disparity” between rising homelessness and the delivery of new homes for social rent, which it said are the only
homes affordable to homeless families.

In the year to March 2023, there were 8,386 new-build social rent houses, figures also published on Thursday by the department showed.

Kate Henderson, NHF chief executive, said the number of socially rented homes needed each year is 10 times the number built last year, and said: “The disparity between rising homelessness and the delivery of new social homes puts into stark perspective just how far away we are from tackling England’s worsening housing crisis.”

Matt Downie, Crisis chief executive, said the level of social homes being built is “a disgrace”, given the latest figures, which show “that, once again, we have a record number of households trapped in temporary accommodation”.

He accused the Government of a “failure to address the chronic shortage of genuinely affordable homes” and said this is having “severe and wide-ranging consequences across England”.

A DLUHC spokesperson said it is spending £2 billion over three years “as part of a cross-government strategy to build homes for rough sleepers, give financial support for people to find a new home, and prevent evictions”.

They said the Government has a “multi-billion pound programme to build thousands of new affordable homes, with a large number for social rent” and referred to progress of the Renters Reform Bill through Parliament and the unfreezing of the Local Housing Allowance from April, announced in last week’s autumn statement.