Response - Improving Standards of Temporary Accommodation

By: Jenny Neuburger  Published: August 2003


Responding in August 2003 to the ODPM's consultation paper on 'Improving standards of accommodation for homeless households placed in temporary accommodation'.

Summary

Overview

Shelter welcomed the Government legislation to prevent the use of bed and breakfast (B&B) hotels to house homeless families with children. 

Shelter also welcomes statutory guidance to ensure existing minimum standards are met for all temporary accommodation, that additional standards are met for B&B accommodation and that homeless households access basic services. 

These measures are vital to ensure that temporary accommodation is of as high a standard as possible and that homeless people are enabled to live as normal a life as possible while they wait for an offer of permanent housing.

Recommendations

Support

We believe that the assessment of support needs and provision of support should form an integral part of authorities' homelessness procedures.  In particular:

  • a specific provision should be made in the Draft Order to ensure that the provision of appropriate support is a factor taken into account by local authorities in determining whether or not accommodation is suitable for a person.  Accompanying guidance should cover assessments, placements and provision of services
  • specific guidance should be included on the placement of 16 and 17 year olds and care leavers in temporary accommodation and their support
  • greater detail should be included on the types of information that need to be shared between service providers to ensure that households receive necessary services
  • given that homelessness strategies are not due to be reviewed until 2008, the requirement that authorities ensure the necessary support for homeless households in securing relevant education, health and social services should stand alone within guidance.

The proposed Order

  • the definition of B&B accommodation should cover accommodation that does not have its own separate kitchen
  • the six-week period for which families with children can be placed in B&B should start from the date when the family first moves in
  • the 21 day period, before which authorities must provide planned alternatives to B&B for families, should start from the date when an applicant first seeks assistance from the authority when threatened with homelessness.

Minimum standards

On the guidance on minimum standards:

  • further guidance should be issued on joint working arrangements between departments and agencies that use and inspect temporary accommodation
  • a B&B hotel grading system should be set out in guidance based on the full BABIE system operating in London
  • hostels managed by local authorities, RSLs and voluntary bodies should be subject to the same minimum standards as privately-run B&B hotels
  • a basic criterion for an authority using a B&B hotel should be that the landlord is a 'fit and proper person' to manage the premises. 

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