Homeless accommodation bill hits £1.7bn

Posted 12 Oct 2023

Today the government has released new figures revealing the amount being spent by local councils on temporary accommodation for homeless households in England in 2022/23. They reveal:  

Councils spent £1.7 billion on temporary accommodation for homeless households between April 2022 and March 2023 

This is a 9% increase in spending in just one year. It has increased by 62% in the last five years.  

One third of the total was spent on emergency B&Bs and hostels – £565 million – which are often considered the worst accommodation for families with children to live in. 

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Not only is £1.7 billion spent on temporary accommodation outrageous, but it’s also illogical. We simply can’t keep throwing money at grim B&Bs and hostels instead of focusing on helping families into a home. With a general election on the horizon, no one can afford to continue to ignore a crisis of this magnitude. 

“Housing benefit should cover the bottom third of local rents but the government has kept it frozen since 2020 while private rents have skyrocketed. This decision combined with the decades of failure to build enough social homes has meant that families can’t find anywhere affordable to live and as a result are forced into homelessness in cramped and unsuitable temporary accommodation, often miles away from their children’s schools and support networks. 

“As an immediate solution, it’s vital the government uses the Autumn Statement to unfreeze housing benefit so it does what it’s meant to do: stop people on low incomes from becoming homeless. However, the only lasting solution to the housing emergency is to invest in genuinely affordable social homes with rents tied to local incomes.” 

Anyone who is facing homelessness can get free and expert advice from Shelter by visiting www.shelter.org.uk/get_help.  

ENDS 

Notes to editors:

Notes to Editors

The amount spent on temporary accommodation (TA) by councils in England in 2022/23 is published by the Department for Levelling Up Housing and Communities Revenue outturn housing services, LA drop-down. The data is available here

Councils spent £1.738177 billion on providing temporary accommodation for homeless households between April 2022 and March 2023. This figure includes the cost to local authorities of administering temporary accommodation, (£141 million across England) 

We have compared 2022/23 data with 2021/22 and 2017/18 data to show the change over the last year and the last five years. The 2017/18 data is published here: Revenue outturn housing services (R04) and the 2021/22 data is published here: Revenue outturn housing services (R04). The amount spent on administering temporary accommodation was not available as a standalone figure pre 2020/21. Therefore when comparing the figure over five years we have compared the amount spent just on accommodation in each time period (1.596753 billion in 2022/23 and 986.187 million in 2017/18). 

The amount spent on hostels and B&Bs in 2022/23 was £565.070 million, or 33% of the total. The amount spent on just B&Bs and hostels has increased by 53% in the last five years (from 369.097 million to 565.070 million). As well as being expensive, B&Bs and hostels are regarded as one of the least suitable types of accommodation for families to live in. This is because they often involve having to share facilities (bathrooms and kitchens) and often the whole family will also have to sleep in one room. There is a six-week legal limit on families being placed in B&Bs. 

The total amount spent on TA includes Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) funding through housing benefit and the housing element of Universal Credit. The DWP sends their percentage of funding to councils to pay for costs, and councils make up the remaining from their own budgets. In addition, many households have to contribute towards their housing costs from their own earnings.