Temporary Accommodation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:56 pm on 7th November 2017.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 3:56 pm, 7th November 2017

I congratulate Siobhain McDonagh on securing the debate, and on the passionate way in which she delivered her speech and described what is going on in her constituency. I can almost certainly say that I agree with nearly every word that she uttered in expressing her desire for regulation—for proper, appropriate measures to be applied to temporary accommodation.

The present position has three aspects. When people who face homelessness approach the local authority, that is the crisis point. They have nowhere to live and, if they are “priority need” homeless, the authority must find them somewhere to live immediately. That is expensive, and the accommodation is often not suitable: in London, people are likely to be offered accommodation way outside the area in which they have been living.

There are two other elements. First, as the hon. Lady said, there are families who have been living in temporary accommodation for 19 years or more. Given that most people who own their homes move, on average, every seven years, it is absurd for someone to be in temporary accommodation for that length of time. We need to take appropriate action. Secondly, there are people who literally have nowhere to live except with friends, perhaps sleeping on sofas. That is a hidden form of homelessness, because it is clearly a form of temporary accommodation.

I am pleased to say that my Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, which secured support from the Front Benches of both parties and, I think, from Members in all parts of the House, will come into force on 1 April 2018. It will produce some remedies for the problems described by the hon. Lady. First, as a result of a Government concession, local authorities that offer either permanent or temporary accommodation must visit and inspect the premises to confirm that they are fit for accommodation and fit for purpose, and we should all ensure that our local authorities honour that requirement.