• By the end of the second quarter of 2020 there were 98,000 households in temporary accommodation, the highest number since 2005.
  • A total of 64% of households in temporary accommodation had children.

This chart shows the number of households that have been placed in temporary accommodation in England since 2002. The data includes households with and without children and those that have been placed in unsuitable accommodation.

People placed in temporary accommodation are classed by their local authority as being, or becoming, homeless and in need. Temporary accommodation is accommodation funded by councils that is typically a private flat, a council or housing association flat, a room in a bed and breakfast establishment or a hostel.

In June 2020, there were 98,000 households in temporary accommodation and 64% of these households had children. The proportion of households in temporary accommodation that have children has been slowly decreasing since a peak of 80% in June 2016.

The number of households in temporary accommodation has risen by 92% since 2010:

  • The fall in households in temporary accommodation of around 53% from September 2004 to December 2010 may reflect a change in legislation occurring in 2002. This legislation stipulated that local authorities had a statutory obligation to reduce and prevent homelessness.
  • The steady increase in households in temporary accommodation since 2011 occurred alongside changes to the social security system, including a reduction in housing benefits that did not rise in line with cost increases in private rent.
  • From April 2018 the Homelessness Reduction Act broadened priority-need eligibility. This legislation qualifies people for access to services, emergency housing or in some cases longer-term housing. It also extended the time for people to become eligible for help before they lose their home. These measures are intended to prevent homelessness.
  • By the start of 2020 there had been no reduction in the numbers of households in temporary accommodation, and the total count had been increasing. However, the number of households in temporary accommodation with children has remained roughly stable since 2018 and the number of households with children placed in unsuitable accommodation has fallen by 36%.
  • It is too early to judge the effectiveness of these new measures and for many local authorities the funding allocated does not meet their financial requirements.

There was a sharp spike in households without children claiming temporary accommodation in 2020 – a 38% increase compared with December 2019. This is due to efforts to place those sleeping rough in temporary accommodation at the start of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the first lockdown.

Being threatened with homelessness is a stressful experience and is linked to psychological distress and depression. Additionally, 22% of all households in temporary accommodation were placed in unsuitable accommodation in March 2020. This can mean living in damp and cold conditions that have a direct impact on physical health, or overcrowding that creates a further risk of contracting infectious diseases.

The increasing number of households in temporary accommodation since 2010 highlights the consequences of reducing both housing benefits to those that require it and funding to councils. This reduction in funding to councils has also resulted in less funding towards homelessness prevention.

  • The data in the chart are administrative statistics, reflecting the actions taken by local authorities to address homelessness. This means they may be subject to local differences in recording practice and issues around informal local restrictions (gatekeeping) in who can access the services.
  • Unsuitable accommodation has been defined as accommodation that is not separate and self-contained. It also includes situations where toilets, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities are shared by one or more households. For this analysis this includes those placed in bed and breakfast establishments, hostels and where no accommodation has been allocated.

Source: Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Statuary homelessness tables

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