Housing

One in four English councils under 'shocking strain' due to temporary accommodation costs

'Where once people were able to find safe and affordable homes, we are now living in total insecurity, within a cruel and broken system'

View of houses and city skyline to illustrate story on temporary accommodation

Quarter of local councils in England feeling ‘shocking strain’ of the cost of temporary accommodation (Mike Bird/Pexels)

Temporary accommodation is posing a “shocking strain” on local councils in England, with a quarter spending 5% of their budget on short-term solutions for households experiencing homelessness, research has found. 

A report from campaign group Generation Rent has found that just under a quarter (24%) of the 249 local councils in England analysed in the research spent at least £1 in every £20 of their budget on temporary accommodation in 2022 to 2023. 

The research found that Hastings, Crawley, Arun, Swale and Rother were among the local councils spending the biggest proportion of their budgets on temporary accommodation.

Households are placed by councils in temporary accommodation when they are made homeless and the council has a legal obligation to rehouse them, but regular private or social housing is unavailable. Usage of temporary accommodation has soared across England in recent years amid the worsening housing crisis

According to the Local Government Association, the number of households now living in temporary accommodation has risen by 89% over the past decade, costing local councils at least £1.74bn in 2022 to 2023.

In 2023, the growing need for temporary accommodation – with many homeless families living in often unsuitable and overcrowded B&Bs and hostels – was described as a “humanitarian crisis”.

Ben Twomey, chief executive of Generation Rent, described the costs of temporarily housing homeless households as a “shocking strain” for a “totally preventable” problem. 

“Where once people were able to find safe and affordable homes, we are now living in total insecurity, within a cruel and broken system,” Twomey explained. 

He added that private renters are in desperate need of a law to prevent Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions, which he describes as a “leading cause of homelessness in our country“.

“After many delays and watering-down… the government scrapped the Renters (Reform) Bill after calling the election. The bill was already not in a fit state to offer renters the vital protections that they need, yet further delays mean that renters will continue to be driven into temporary accommodation,” he explained.

“It is now a matter of urgency that the next government introduce these long-overdue reforms to make renting work for the millions of private renters and the local communities being saddled with spiralling temporary accommodation costs.”

The research comes as the government has shelved the Renters (Reform) Bill in the run-up to the general election on 4 July, with the bill promising to bring vital protections from eviction for renters.

At the 2019 general election, all of the major parties supported an end to “no fault” evictions, which gives landlords the power to evict tenants without a reason. This rally to end Section 21 evictions is also echoed in Big Issue’s Blueprint for Change call for the incoming government in July.

Over five years, however, the Renters (Reform) Bill was delayed, then watered-down, and has now been shelved as the government called a general election and failed to pass the bill on parliament’s last two sitting days.

In 2023, Generation Rent estimated that one renter could face a no-fault eviction claim every 15 minutes over the six-week summer holiday as parliament took its recess.

“Urgent action is needed to end unfair evictions and Generation Rent will not stop campaigning until renters are protected,” the group said.

Big Issue is demanding an end to poverty this general election. Will you sign our open letter to party leaders?

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