Number of families living in B&Bs at 10-year high

5 September 2013

Father child yellow

The number of homeless families living in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation is at its highest in nearly ten years, government figures showed today.

2,090 homeless families across England have been placed in B&Bs after losing their homes, an eight per cent rise on the same period last year, and the highest since September 2003.

Overall homeless figures also rose by more than five per cent in the last year. This includes 8,790 families with children – the equivalent of one family losing their home every 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, a Shelter poll found that six in every ten working families paying mortgage or rent are struggling with their payments. Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said 'These figures are a wake-up call. Ordinary families are falling through the net and risk losing everything.’

Shelter is warning that more families will need help at the same time as the government are making cuts to the housing safety net, including restrictions on housing benefit and support for homeowners facing repossession.

Shelter sees many families placed in unsuitable B&B-style accommodation, often for weeks at a time. This includes families such as Gary’s, who had to live in a B&B for 11 weeks. He, his wife and their three young children had to live and sleep in just one room, sharing a bathroom and kitchen with six other residents.

Gary said ‘You feel as though you have failed your children and your family. It is really, really, heart breaking.’

Campbell Robb expressed concern about the shrinking safety net, saying ‘People may be talking about green shoots, but every day our advisers speak to people who are terrified of what will happen to them because they don’t know how they will pay their rent or mortgage after a sudden drop in income.

‘We are asking the government to urgently build up the support available to families who face losing their homes, and to protect the safety net that gives families who fall on hard times the advice and support they need to rebuild their lives.’