Destitute to be found permanent homes

The Government is soon to ban the use of bed and breakfast hotels to house destitute families except in emergencies, Barbara Roche, the minister for Homelessness, has announced.

A package of measures to help homeless families will lay down minimum standards for local authority housing. The ban on councils using B&Bs for homeless families will apply unless there are no other options. Under the new rules councils will then be required to find more permanent housing within six weeks.

Councils will also have an obligation to make sure that homeless families in B&Bs have access to schools and doctors. The new standards are designed to address criticisms that many homeless families have been stuck in B&Bs for years, with adverse consequences for young children.

Yesterday Mrs Roche said £350,000 would be spent on new services to help homeless families while they are living in temporary accommodation. The Government is to fund research into the impact of temporary accommodation on the health and education of children.

"We have to help homeless families more effectively, not only to give them and their children a better future but because of the cost to the wider community and public services," she said. "In addition to taking action that stops children growing up in B&B hotels and other forms of unsuitable accommodation, we also seek to understand more about the people who find themselves homeless and caught up in a cycle of despair."

The £350,000 will fund research by the homelessness charity Shelter and the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, which helps with the health needs of homeless families.

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