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Record number of households and children in temporary accommodation, government reveals | Politics News

A record number of households and children are living in temporary accommodation in England, government figures have revealed.

The announcement came a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “proud” of the progress his government had made on housebuilding.

The new data showed 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation to the end of March this year.

This is the largest figure in the 25 years since the data started being recorded, and was 10% higher than 2022’s number.

The total number of children in temporary accommodation also reached its highest level since records for that measure began in 2004 – at 131,370.

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Some 41,950 households were assessed as homeless and therefore entitled to relief duty – help to secure settled housing – by their local authority between January and March this year.

Of those, 11,250 were households with children – up 12.1% from the same quarter last year.

Almost 14,000 households were living in bed and breakfasts as of March – up 37.4% on the year before, and the number of B&Bs with dependent children in them rose by 131.2% to 3,930 by the end of March.

Of these, 1,840 had been living there for more than the statutory limit of six weeks, the government said – more than double the 2022 figure.

Just a day before the release of the figures, Housing Secretary Michael Gove gave a speech in which he pledged to increase housebuilding in the UK.

This comes despite the government watering down its target to build 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the 2020s.

Downing Street claims it is still on track to meet its target.

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Asked whether the manifesto pledge of 300,000 new homes a year still stood, Mr Sunak said: “We are making progress, I’m proud of that progress and we’re not stopping there.

“But we’ve got to do it in the right way, I don’t want to concrete over the countryside, that’s something that is very special about Britain.”

Speaking today, Matt Downie, the chief executive of Crisis, said: “This is unacceptable. The Westminster government may have declared victory yesterday on a pledge to build one million homes in this parliament, but these figures highlight how out of touch they are.”

He blamed a lack of investment in housing benefit and not enough social housing for “trapping” families in temporary accommodation with “just one room, with no facilities to cook meals or do washing”.

Labour’s shadow homelessness minister, Paula Barker, said the figures were a “shameful indictment” of the government’s record.

“The Conservatives promised to prevent homelessness and end rough sleeping by the end of next year, but they are completely and utterly failing, with devastating consequences for thousands of families and children.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We are determined to prevent homelessness before it occurs. Temporary accommodation ensures no family is without a roof over their head and we have been clear that the use of B&Bs is always a last resort.”

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“Councils must ensure temporary accommodation is suitable for families, who have a right to appeal if they think it does not meet their household’s needs. That’s why we have given £2bn over three years to help local authorities tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, targeted to areas where it is needed most. In London, this includes over £350m funding through the Homelessness Prevention Grant.

“The government is also improving availability of social housing. We are committed to delivering 300,000 new homes per year and investing £11.5bn to build the affordable, quality homes this country needs.”

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