Homeless children still being kept in B&Bs in Edinburgh despite pledge to end practice

17 families with children are being housed in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation in Edinburgh despite a pledge the practice would be ended four months ago.
17 families with children are being housed in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation in Edinburgh despite a pledge the practice would be ended four months ago.
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Seventeen families with children are being housed in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation in Edinburgh despite a pledge the practice would be ended four months ago.

In January 2018, the council promised that no youngsters would be housed in B&Bs by June – but 46 families remained when the deadline passed. The council still has 17 families in bed and breakfasts – and the number of children in temporary accommodation has increased for each of the last five years.

Two 16 and 17-year-old are also in B&Bs as the main homeless applicants.

The SNP-Labour coalition remains determined to end the use of B&Bs to house homeless people – and has pointed to lack of affordable housing and the expansion of Airbnb properties as contributing to the delays.

Cllr Lezley Marion Cameron, vice-convener of the Housing and Economy Committee, said: “There is a huge shortage of available and truly affordable housing in Edinburgh. Countless people and families are paying a higher proportion of their household incomes direct on the costs of their housing.

“The rapid growth of the short term lets sector in recent years, the increasing levels of rent for tenancies in the private sector and Edinburgh’s fast growing population are major contributors to the pressures on housing supply.

“The coalition is committed to fully cease, as swiftly as possible, the use of bed and breakfasts to provide temporary accommodation for people and families with housing need.”

She added: “We have allocated an additional 30 council owned homes to our temporary housing provision and an ambitious new affordable house building programme is well under way. But the size and scale of the shortage of decent, available affordable homes issue is such that we still need to do much more, and faster.”

The council’s spend on temporary accommodation has reduced every year since 2009 and has been cut by more than £1.5 million over the last five years. During the 2017/18 financial year, £4.8 million was spent on the service.

The funding the council has put forward for homelessness prevention work, including advice for those presenting as homeless, has also been cut. In 2013-14, more than £3.5 million was spent – but this reduced to just £2.9m last year.

Annually, the number of children housed in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh increased from 780 in March 2017 to 1,095 in March 18 – a rise of 40 per cent. The number was 385 in 2014, 430 in 2015 and 495 in 2016 – showing an increase for each of the last five years. Last year, homeless households with children spent an average of 290 days in temporary accommodation in Edinburgh.

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP, said: “This drastic rise of children in temporary accommodation is deeply concerning and a trend that we need to reverse.

“Ultimately the lack of affordable accommodation will be a big factor in families being stuck in temporary accommodation.”