Westminster 'breaking the law' as more homeless families languish in B&Bs
Published by 24publishing for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Local Government
Rise in families languishing in Westminster B&Bs
Labour councillors in Westminster have hit out at the council and the Government as figures revealed that the number of families languishing in B&Bs over the statutory six-week period in the borough increased by 35 in the last two months.
The rise brings the total number of families in B&Bs over the legal limit of six weeks to 130. The pressure is being driven by an increase in approaches and acceptances. The council says it has accepted 50% more homeless cases between April and September in 2012 than it did in the same period in 2011.
Former housing minister Grant Shapps has expressed concerns over the increased use of B&B accommodation by local authorities and in April wrote to 20 local authorities – including Westminster - who between them account for almost 80% of families in B&Bs for more than six weeks, reiterating the Government's position that the practice is “unacceptable”. However, Labour councillors argue that the figure has almost quadrupled since then.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour Group, said: “When will the Government and Westminster Conservatives acknowledge that their housing and economic policies are not working? The council continues to break the law and successive housing ministers have allowed them to get away with it. It is simply not acceptable for the Council to continue to place homeless families in B&B accommodation for more than six weeks.
"The Westminster housing crisis is getting deeper and the situation for the homeless is getting worse with every month that passes. There is a need for more homes at prices that people can afford."
Cllr Jonathan Glanz, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for housing and property, said: "Reducing the use of bed and breakfast accommodation is a priority. However, the current demand for housing is outstripping the available supply and our ability to lease larger self-contained accommodation within the current temporary accommodation regime is limited, and this is leading to increased use of bed and breakfast accommodation.
"We have ambitious plans in place to increase in and close-to borough supply, but we need to work with central Government to find a way forward on longer-term temporary accommodation.
"We are committed to increasing levels of affordable housing in the borough and supporting our residents into work."