Number of households in emergency accommodation on the rise as benefit caps bite
Councils forced to call on B&Bs
Councils in London are being forced to place more people in emergency accommodation as tenants are squeezed out of private rented sector housing.
A snap survey of London boroughs by Inside Housing revealed 15 boroughs have already placed 6,322 households in emergency accommodation - usually bed and breakfasts or hostels - in 2011/12, compared with 7,461 in the whole of the previous financial year.
Restrictions to local housing allowance for new private rented sector tenants, which came into effect last April, and the worsening financial conditions for tenants, have been cited by councils as reasons for the increase.
The findings come as caps to LHA - of between £250 and £400 depending on property size - begin to be phased in for existing benefit claimants.
Sixteen councils said they expected the number of people requiring temporary accommodation to increase over the next few years.
Bromley Council has already placed 223 people in emergency accommodation in 2011/12, an increase from 121 in 2010/11.
A spokesperson said: ‘We have seen a significant increase in the number [of people] approaching housing need and, in particular, facing imminent homelessness against a backdrop of reduced supply of housing.’
A spokesperson for Lewisham Council, which has, so far, placed 432 households in emergency accommodation in 2011/12 compared with 591 last year, said: ‘There is currently pressure in terms of demand from those threatened with homelessness.’
Nigel Minto, head of housing at London Councils, said B&Bs are expensive and not ideal for families due to the need to share facilities. ‘It is the last resort,’ he said.
The survey also revealed councils are increasingly placing people outside their boroughs - and some outside London. Councils have placed 2,108 households outside their borough in 2011/12, almost equalling 2010/11’s 2,230 figure.
Croydon Council announced this week it is considering an offer to use 27 flats in Walsall and 69 in Manchester owned by private developers.
Spokespeople for the Communities and Local Government department and the Department for Work and Pensions said at least 30 per cent of private rental properties will be affordable in most areas.