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Housing problems on the rise

PUBLISHED: 19:00 19 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:35 03 March 2010

THE number of families forced to live in bed and breakfast accommodation in East Anglia has risen dramatically compared to other parts of the country, shock figures reveal.

THE number of families forced to live in bed and breakfast accommodation in East Anglia has risen dramatically compared to other parts of the country, shock figures reveal.

Charities for the homeless say a lack of affordable housing in the region is stopping people from being able to move out of temporary residence to set up home.

Between September and December last year, the number of households living in temporary accommodation in the East rose from 4,950 to 5,650 – an increase of more than 14 per cent.

During the same period, families living in bed and breakfast accommodation increased by more than 40pc from 320 to 460 – the third largest increase in the country.

The figures, published by the Department for Transport and Local Government Regions, shows East Anglia as having the fourth largest increase in the number of families moving into temporary accommodation in the country.

In Ipswich, just six households were living in bed and breakfast accommodation in February last year, compared to 22 today.

The total number of families in temporary accommodation during this period also rose from 143 to 169 at present.

Bill Hewlett, chief housing manager at Ipswich Borough Council, put the increase down to a lack of affordable housing in the area, and the fact that benefits are no longer at the same level as rent prices.

"We can see private rents and housing markets going up. The rent levels are increasing higher than the benefit levels," he said.

The housing manager added that the council had ploughed £2.5 million into providing homes in partnership with housing associations.

In March last year, Waveney District Council had nine families in temporary accommodation compared to 18 households and four single people now.

An increase was also experienced by Suffolk Coastal District Council, which saw the numbers in temporary accommodation rise from 26 to 30 from February 2001 to last month.

The number of families in bed and breakfast during this period doubled from nine to 18.

A spokesman said: "The housing market is now doing so well landlords are selling up with vacant possession so people are losing what was their rented home.

"The housing market is having an effect. It's making it more attractive than it was for landlords to sell up property, which has traditionally been available for rent."

Babergh District Council had 34 homeless families in temporary accommodation and none in B & B at the end of February 2001.

By the end of February 2002, there were 37 families in temporary accommodation and one in B&B.

Chris Foti, head of housing, said: "Babergh has been increasingly worried about the worsening homelessness situation. These figures at first sight suggesting a small increase are the first indication that the problem is worsening.

"Babergh is coping with this problem but ultimately needs more resources from the Government to do so."

Other districts within Suffolk have seen the number of people in temporary accommodation fall during the past year.

In Bury St Edmunds the number fell from 96 in February 2001 to 71 in February 2002. The district currently has no families in bed and breakfast accommodation.

Forest Heath District Council said the number of households in temporary accommodation, including those in bed and breakfast, had fallen from 14 to nine between February 2001 and 2002.

A spokeswoman for homeless charity Shelter said: "It's quite a large percentage rise in East Anglia, which puts it in the top four in the country."


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