I was going to come on to that, but let us deal with it now. Tenants are defenceless at present. They may well know their rights, but they are not able to exercise them. Because the law centre in my area is on a contract, it is limited in the work that it can do, and it is swamped. The citizens advice bureau is swamped continuously. There are lines of people on a
Tuesday morning queuing up to go to the CAB to book their appointment. In my constituency we have moved to an open door policy so that people can come to the office at any time. All the agencies that I am aware of are swamped.
Tenants cannot get into the system even to challenge what is going on. It is not just about getting access to a property; it is about defending themselves, once they are in that property, against abuse by landlords and threats of eviction. All this has resulted in the use of bed-and-breakfast accommodation in my constituency going up. The figure was 30 in 2012; the latest figures I have from the beginning of 2014 show that there were well over 200 families in bed and breakfast. I thought that on a cross-party basis we had committed ourselves to ensuring that no family would be in bed and breakfast.
The bed-and-breakfast establishments that I have been visiting are squalid. They are appalling. Because families are stuck in bed and breakfast for a long time, children are being brought up in squalid and often unsafe conditions.