Saturday, 18 April 2015

London councils forced to house families in B&Bs

Councils in the capital are being forced to house nearly 900 families with children in bed and breakfasts for more than six weeks, umbrella group London Councils has found.

The membership body has been meeting with officials from the Communities and Local Government department to try to bring private sector landlords back into the social housing market.

A London Councils survey of London housing directors found the number of private rented sector landlords willing to let to homeless people on benefits dropped by about 20 per cent in the last year.

It says that landlords are no longer renting to homeless people on benefits because of the high numbers of renters in work and rising rents. Tenants on benefits are seen as a less secure option, particularly with the imminent changes to the benefits system.

Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ executive member for housing, said: ‘While we need to address the long term housing shortage in London, we need to act now to tackle the acute housing crisis in the capital - primarily caused by the chronic shortage of temporary accommodation available for councils to place homeless Londoners.

‘While local authorities have been doing their very best to mitigate the impacts, we need a concerted effort by central government departments and councils to take action to ensure a supply of good quality, affordable homes in the private rented sector.

‘Londoners deserve to have safe, affordable and secure places to live. We hope to work alongside the government to make this a reality.’

Councils often rely on PRS accommodation for temporary housing but with the lack of these types of properties are having to rely on B&Bs. The government guidance is families should not be housed in B&Bs for more than six weeks.

London Councils and CLG have been discussing various measures to bring PRS landlords back to the market. These include tax relief for landlords, improvements to government schemes to bring private empty homes back into use and better joint working between central and local government.

The umbrella body also calls for the Department for Work and Pensions to work alongside CLG to address the issue of lack of private rented sector homes.

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