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Revealed: £100m government spending hike on temporary homeless accommodation

Government spending on temporary accommodation for homeless people increased by 58% in a single year, figures have revealed.

According to data obtained by Scram News through a Freedom of Information request, the amount of money the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) allocated to temporary accommodation increased by 58% between the year 2016/7 and 2017/18.

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In 2016/17, the government spent £148 million on temporary housing. By 2017/18, this figure had increased to £234m.

Last week, it was revealed that the number of households living in temporary accommodation in England has risen dramatically in the last 10 years. There are currently 84,740 households living in temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs and hostels, including 126,020 children.

This comes amid a general rise in homelessness across the country, with figures showing an increase in homelessness by 11% in the last quarter alone.

A spokesperson from homelessness charity Crisis said that the rising costs of temporary accommodation reflected this rise in homelessness, adding that a lack of affordable homes was necessitating councils to house people in temporary accommodation for longer periods of time.

Jon Sparkes, their Chief Executive, told us that the government needs to act:

“From speaking to people affected by homelessness, we know just how grim some temporary accommodation can be. No one should have to live in damaged, and even dangerous conditions, where they lack basic cooking and laundry facilities and face the constant pressure of eviction at short notice.

“We need to tackle the root causes of the issue, putting money into increasing help to those at risk of losing their home at a much earlier stage so that homelessness is prevented. In the awful cases where people do lose their homes, we need to make sure they are helped quickly into safe and secure housing. This means ensuring housing benefit covers the cost of rent and building more social housing in ordinary communities. 

“In 21st century Britain, homelessness isn’t inevitable. We have the solutions to reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation, and end homelessness for good. We now need the government to swiftly tackle the problem and fix it once and for all.”

Meanwhile, Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter said: “Rocketing rents, welfare reform and unstable tenancies, combined with a chronic lack of social housing, mean more people are falling into homelessness every day. 

“As a result, councils across the country are increasingly having to spend eye-watering sums of money on temporary accommodation like B&Bs and hostels, as they struggle to find thousands of people somewhere stable to live.   

“Investing in social housing today means councils won’t have to keep shelling out millions to house people in often unsuitable and undesirable accommodation.”

Responding to the news, a spokesperson from the MHCLG added that the government was trying to reduce the numbers in temporary accommodation through increased funding to councils. They said: “Everyone should have somewhere safe to live, and councils have a duty to provide temporary accommodation to those who need it.”

However, these figures suggest that while the government is stuck going round in circles with Brexit, their efforts to solve homelessness are falling well short.

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