To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that local housing authorities make homeless families aware that they are (a) entitled to compensation if they are unlawfully placed in bed and breakfast accommodation for longer than six weeks and (b) able to escalate a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman in the event that such financial redress is not offered in compensation.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what his Department's policy is on the intended start time for the six-week period specified in the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation)(England) Order 2003 (No.3326) in respect of the date on which (a) a homeless family accepts a placement in bed and breakfast and (b) that family moves into that accommodation.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with reference to the Answer of 15 September 2016 to Question 45358, on the Government's response to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, what progress his Department has made on the implementation of the recommendation that it should strictly implement that homeless families should spend no longer than six weeks in bed and breakfast accommodation.
Time spent in temporary accommodation ensures no family is without a roof over their head. The Government is assisting areas to ensure that families spend no longer than 6 weeks in B&Bs, which includes protecting and maintaining the homelessness prevention funding at £315 million. We have also replaced Department of Work and Pension’s Temporary Accommodation Management Fee with a Flexible Homelessness Support Grant which local authorities can use more strategically to prevent and tackle homelessness. This amounts to £402 million over the two years from 2017/18.
While the number of households in temporary accommodation is below the 2004 peak, the law is clear that households with dependent children should only be accommodated in B&B in an emergency and for no longer than six weeks, which commences when the household moves in.
When a family is accommodated in a B&B, the local authority must provide written information that the period of accommodation should be no more than 6 weeks, after which the authority must secure alternative suitable accommodation. Under the law, any accommodation must be suitable.
A small number of authorities (around 5 per cent) account for 80 per cent of breaches. The Government has been clear that in normal circumstances the long term use of B&B accommodation for families with children is both inappropriate and unlawful and we are determined to stop this practice. There are councils who are successfully reducing the number and length of time families are spending in B&B accommodation and we expect areas in similar situations to follow their example.
The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman publishes guidance on remedying personal injustice where one of their investigations reveals there has been fault, including investigations in relation to Homelessness. The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman publishes all decisions on complaints on their website, including any remedies they recommend.