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Housing: Standards

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 28th February 2014.

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Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance he has issued to local authorities on the length of time families with children should stay in annexe accommodation provided under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004.

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (England) Order 2003 makes clear that bed and breakfast accommodation provided under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 should only be used to house homeless households with children in an emergency, and then for no longer than six weeks.

Statutory guidance reiterates this restriction and states that where bed and breakfast accommodation is secured the authority should notify the household of the effect of the Order.

We have increased transparency by publishing a list of all local authorities who have used bed and breakfast for families with children for longer than six weeks. Bed and breakfast accommodation is defined as accommodation which is not self-contained and in which a toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities are shared by more than one household. As such any annexes where facilities are shared will be included within published statistics and can only be used in an emergency and then for no longer than six weeks.

The Government is determined to tackle this unlawful and damaging practice and has made available £2 million in 2013-14 to support local authorities to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to the problems which drive the use of bed and breakfast accommodation. Recent reports indicate that this approach is starting to take effect, with local authorities in receipt of funding significantly reducing the number of families with children in bed and breakfast accommodation.

We are also committed to helping other authorities by drawing on the lessons learned from the funding. We have earmarked £100,000 to use to identify good practice which will be shared with other local authorities.

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