The Urgent Need to Reduce Temporary Accommodation Use by Harvey Thomas

Under the Housing Act 1996, Local housing authorities in England have a duty to secure accommodation for unintentionally homeless households in priority need[1]. Homeless households are then placed into this accommodation on a temporary basis until they can be transferred to more secure, long-term accommodation.

96,600 households were recorded to be in temporary accommodation at the end of June 2021 following a sharp increase in 2020’s second quarter, this number has since been steadily increasing. 63% of these households included dependent children[2]. The most problematic form of temporary accommodation is Bed and Breakfast accommodation. The number of families with dependent children placed in B&B-style accommodation was recorded at 1,400 at the end of June 2021[3]

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Temporary accommodation brings with it a whole slew of negative complications for those forced to stay in it. According to a 2020 investigation conducted by Shelter[4], these can include feelings of social isolation (particularly with households being moved out of their original areas, away from work, school, family and other potential support networks), an inability to feel safe (one source of such fear for example being forced to share basic facilities with people showing COVID symptoms), struggling to eat properly due to reduced access to basic cooking facilities, difficulty keeping clean due to being forced to rely on inadequate and/ or unhygienic washing facilities, and an overall reduction in mental wellbeing.

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Reliance on temporary accommodation also serves as an issue for local authorities. The use of temporary accommodation is an overly expensive band-aid measure, and places a severe financial burden on local authorities. Inside Housing has reported that prior to the pandemic, councils were spending about 1.2 billion pounds on temporary accommodation annually[5]. A lucrative private market has developed around exploiting the need of local authorities for access to decent temporary accommodation[6]: almost four fifths of utilized temporary accommodation prior to the pandemic being in the form of private rented housing[7]. Fewer private landlords than social landlords are willing to work with local authorities to house homeless people and those that do are so insistent on price gouging that councils are forced to offer nightly pay, with some councils even reporting that such stinginess has resulted in a narrow supply of private rental accommodation available to them, and an increased difficulty in negotiating for cheaper rates[8]

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So, what can be done? A 2021 report from the Chartered Institute of Housing[9] reveals that moving families out of temporary accommodation and into social rented accommodation saves councils about £7,760 each year. To this end, here at KeyStone we are buying up older properties with the intent to renovate them and make them available to homeless households as affordable and high-quality long-term accommodation. Our approach will not only save councils substantial amounts, but also provide the opportunity for socially minded investors to make a significant positive impact on a long-standing issue.


[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid