26 March 2015 By Daniel Douglas, Inside Housing

The number of families in bed and breakfast for longer than six weeks as at 31 December 2014 was 55% higher than the year before, according to official statistics released today.

The latest Department for Communities and Local Government figures show 780 families were in B&Bs at the end of last year for six weeks or more compared with 500 at the end of the year before.

The stats show a total of 2,040 families were in bed and breakfast-style accommodation at the end of 2014, which was a 31% rise from 1,560 the year before.

In the final statistical release on homelessness before the general election in May, the government data also shows that there were 20,000 more children in temporary accommodation in the last quarter of 2014 than there were when the coalition came to power in 2010 (see chart) – a rise of 31% in four years. In the last quarter of 2010, there were 69,050 children in temporary accommodation.

In the wake of an affordability crisis, a record 16,000 families (93% from London councils) have been sent out of the local authority area to cheaper temporary housing elsewhere. That’s a 31% rise from the last quarter of 2013 – when it was 12,190 – to the end quarter of 2014.

Government guidance says councils must house homeless families within their area unless this is not ‘practicably possible’.

Homelessness acceptances were also up 6% in the last quarter of 2014 compared with the same quarter the year before – rising to 13,650 households from 12,950 in the last quarter of 2013.

The number of people found to be ‘intentionally homeless’ – where a council decides it does not have a legal duty to giving housing assistance to a homeless household – is the highest ever on record, as a proportion of total decisions, having risen to 9% of total decisions in the most recent quarter for the first time, and up from 7% in 2009/10 (see chart).

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: ‘These shameful figures reveal the true cost of us not building enough homes in England – more children stuck in temporary accommodation like hostels and B&Bs, often living in cramped and poor conditions.’

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: ‘This madness has to end. When our housing shortage has created a crisis this deep, there’s only one way out and that’s for politicians to commit to building the affordable homes we desperately need.’

Kris Hopkins, homelessness minister, said: ‘Throughout this parliament, departments have worked together to coordinate action on the issues facing homeless people.

But we are not complacent. There are still too many people facing homelessness and too many people struggling to access the support they need to move towards independence.’

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