Bed and breakfasts are being asked to house homeless families at a rate of eight times the legal limit, according to new findings revealed by The Guardian.
This is due to a third of councils nationwide placing homeless adults and children in B&B accommodation for more than six weeks at a time.
B&B owners may be unaware of the rules governing the temporary accommodation of destitute families, but they're at least doing a good deed for a charitable cause by keeping people off the streets - and in the process resolving any under-occupancy issues they may have - with councils footing the bill before they can find families longer-term accommodation.
However, some B&B owners might fear their involvement will be counterproductive in PR terms if the public perceive them to be making money from the taxpayer, nor will all regular paying guests, whose word-of-mouth referrals are the lifeblood of the industry, necessarily be impressed.
A lack of affordable housing has fuelled the large increase in B&Bs being used to house homeless families
B&B accommodation is supposed to act only as a short-term measure while those affected wait for council houses to become available. However, a lack of affordable housing has led to this huge increase in B&B use, say charities.
One hundred and twenty five local authorities have placed homeless families in guesthouses and B&Bs beyond the legal time limit and the problem is most acute in London, with Westminster borough spending nearly £85,000 a week housing families.
And as it is local authorities that are spending thousands of pounds to house those in need, it is the taxpayer who ultimately pays the B&B owners, with the number of longer term B&B occupancies steadily rising since the coalition government came into office in May 2010.
But now that councils has been named and shamed, the government is attempting to alleviate the problem by extending the Localism Act. Forcing homeless families to accept private rented accommodation, the act means fewer families will be without social housing for shorter periods of time.
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