Why are families being 'left to rot' in B&B accommodation?
Britain's housing crisis is not getting any better, writes Ipswich Borough Council leader, David Ellesmere.
Councils across Britain are spending more than £93m on emergency bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless households. This is nearly 10 times more than in 2010.
This massive increase in homelessness is a crisis borne out of deliberate policy decisions by the Government.
Prime among these is the freezing of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) since 2016. In 97% of England now - including Ipswich - even if you receive the maximum level of LHA, it won't cover all your rent and you will have to make up the difference using money meant for food, heating or clothing.
Added to this is a steadily shrinking stock of social housing due to increased discounts for Right To Buy sales.
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Being made homeless is a devastating event for families and being put into bed and breakfast accommodation only makes this worse.
Using B&Bs is always a last resort for councils. It is clearly not appropriate for families with children and there are Government financial penalties.
This is why Ipswich Borough Council has its own temporary accommodation for more than 80 households. Our two main units, built since Labour took control of the council in 2011, are East and West Villas. These are high quality, safe and well-managed units with staff on site 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Households get their own living space where they receive help and support to get back on their feet and find permanent housing. This is clearly better than leaving families to rot in bed and breakfasts.
Providing accommodation in different parts of Ipswich means that it is easier to keep children of homeless families in their existing school, helping to provide at least some stability for them at a very stressful time.
I personally found it shocking that Conservative councillors tried to stir up local opposition against East Villa being built. The end result of their campaign, if it had been successful, would have been for more families to go into bed and breakfast accommodation or, even worse, end up on the streets.