Number of families living in B&B falls

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The Independent Online
THE NUMBER of households officially accepted as homeless in England has fallen, according to statistics released by the Department of the Environment yesterday. There has also been a sharp reduction in the number of families living in bed and breakfast accommodation.

Councils accepted responsibility for securing permanent homes for 33,630 households in the December quarter of 1992, compared to 35,520 in the previous quarter and 34,600 households in the December quarter of 1991. It was first year-on-year drop since the present homeless provisions came into effect in 1978.

About 40 per cent of those accepted as homeless lost their last settled homes because parents, relatives or friends were no longer willing, or able, to put them up. Eighteen per cent lost homes because of the breakdown of a relationship and 9 per cent because of mortgage arrears.

The number of households in temporary accommodation last December was 62,740, a 4 per cent decrease on September, but 5 per cent up on December 1991.

The use of bed and breakfast for temporary accommodation was down to 7,510 households (3,820 in London) in December, compared to 10,390 (5,460) in September and 12,150 (7,020) in December 1991.

Welcoming the figures, Sir George Young, the Minister for Housing, said he hoped to see the trend continue as the full benefits were felt of measures like the Housing Market Package, which was intended to make more than 20,000 units of social housing available for letting.

Charles Hendry, joint chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on homelessness, said the decline in the number living in B & B was 'nothing short of dramatic'. He added: 'B & B is a terrible waste of resources, costing much more than alternative forms of accommodation and providing very inadequate housing for the families involved.'

Though the year-on-year number of households accepted as homeless has fallen in most regions, including greater London - down to 9,120 last December from 9,540 - in Yorkshire and Humberside the number rose from 2,950 to 3,890.