Housing

The number of households living in temporary accommodation in England is now at the highest point on record

More than 100,000 households are now being put up in temporary accommodation – the first time the 100,000 barrier has been broken in almost 20 years

Naomi is homeless and lives in temporary accommodation

More people like Naomi are stuck in temporary accommodation than ever before. When her mother kicked her out after finding out she was pregnant, Naomi slept on friends’ sofas during the early stages of her pregnancy before moving into temporary accommodation with her two-year-old daughter. Image: Centre for Homelessness Impact / Aaron Chown / PA Wire.

The number of households living in temporary accommodation in England is now at the highest point on record as the country’s housing crisis continues to leave families locked out of homes.

A total of 101,300 households, including 127,220 children, were living in hotels, B&Bs and other makeshift accommodation at the end of December last year, government figures show, representing a 5 per cent rise in the space of a year.

The last time more than 100,000 households lived in temporary accommodation was in 2005. But as a shortage of affordable housing sent rents to record-highs and house prices soaring, the number of households living in short-term homes has doubled since 2012.

John Glenton, executive director of housing association Riverside Care and Support, said a “perfect storm” of the cost of living crisis, rising rents and a backlog of eviction court cases has driven households to temporary accommodation.

“It is very worrying to see the number of households in temporary accommodation hit their highest levels in nearly 20 years. Sadly, it is not entirely surprising,” said Glenton. “We now face a perfect storm of factors driving more people into homelessness while giving us fewer good options to help them when they do.

“As a society we need to recognise that investing in social housing stock – and particularly in housing types that provide homeless households with a route back to security, such as one-bedroomed flats – is not just an investment in bricks and mortar.”

temporary accommodation in England

The surge in temporary accommodation in 2022 was driven by rising numbers of families with children left without a permanent home. A total of 62,410 families were based in a temporary home – up 6 per cent on 2021 levels – while the number of single individuals rose 3 per cent to 38,890. 

More families have been put up in B&Bs in the last year as local authorities have struggled to find suitable accommodation to house them.

A total of 12,220 households were living in B&Bs at the end of 2022 – up almost a third in 2022 – with the number of families with children in B&Bs more than doubling to 2,980 households.

The majority of households living in temporary accommodation are based in London where 16 out of every 1,000 households live in short-term homes. Elsewhere in England, two out of every 1,000 households live in temporary accommodation.

Christa Maciver, head of research, policy and communications at homelessness charity Justlife, said new regulation is required to improve the state of temporary accommodation but only more social housing can end the need for it.

Maciver said: “The government has to prioritise social housing, but we also need to look at what we can do in the short-term to lift standards, starting with including TA under the decent homes standard in the new Renters Reform Bill.”

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Matt Downie, chief executive of Crisis, said the statistics showed “the homelessness system is on its knees” and that the need for good, affordable homes “could not be more desperate”. 

Downie added: “Years of inaction and failure has brought us to this point. We’re supporting people trapped in temporary accommodation who are living in one room with their children, often without facilities to cook their own meals or do their washing – causing real damage to their physical and mental health.”

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Overall, 72,550 families and individuals contacted local authorities for support with homelessness between October and December last year, up almost 5 per cent on the same three-month period a year earlier.

There was a particular surge in the number of families with children requiring relief from homelessness. The 9,820 homeless families councils supported at the end of 2022 was 14 per cent higher than in 2021.

The most common reason why households needed support to escape homelessness was because family or friends were no longer willing or able to accommodate people.

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The loss of a private rented tenancy was the most common reason why councils had to step in to prevent homelessness, accounting for 11,790 households. Landlords wishing to sell or re-let their property made up 63 per cent of those cases. 

The government is imminently set to publish its Renters Reform Bill to lay out plans on how it will end no-fault evictions, also known as Section 21 evictions, which allow landlords to evict tenants without a reason.

Just over 5,000 households needed council support after receiving a Section 21 notice between October and December last year, although this represented a 5 per cent drop when compared to 2021.

A government spokesperson said: “Over 600,000 households have been prevented from becoming homeless or supported into settled accommodation since 2018 but we know there is more to be done to help families at risk of losing their homes.

“We are giving councils £1 billion through the Homelessness Prevention Grant over three years, to help them prevent and tackle homelessness targeted in areas where it is needed most.”

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