Justlife’s latest report provides a fresh analysis of data on hidden homeless populations in unsupported temporary accommodation (UTA) in order to lift the lid on the true extent of homelessness in England.
Unsupported temporary accommodation is private, short-stay accommodation in which households do not have permanent residency status and limited access to local authority support to find settled accommodation. It includes Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs), short-stay HMOs, private hostels, emergency accommodation and guesthouses. UTA is typically ignored in legislation, policy and initiatives aimed at reducing or ending homelessness, in spite of the role it plays in the homelessness ‘system’.
Those in UTA are not always considered homeless although residents will not have access to safe, secure and settled housing, often fit the legal definition for homelessness and many are missed completely from official statistics. As a result, many homeless households who end up in UTA do not go to local authority homelessness teams for support because they are not owed a statutory duty and cycle between rough sleeping and UTA, experiencing great hardship which largely goes unnoticed.
This report releases the data gathered from freedom of information (FOI) requests to all 326 local authorities in England asking how many private tenants were claiming housing benefit from B&Bs in the years between 2010/11-2015/16. 16 by local authorities was 5870; however, the gross population from useable FOI data from 219 returns was 20,290. Based on these figures, we have estimated that in all likelihood the B&B population in 2015/16 was upwards of 51,500, nearly ten times more than the official statistics suggest.
The close relationship between UTA needs to be recognised and more commonly recognised forms of homelessness in attempts to address homelessness in England through policy, legislation or best practice, because there are far more hidden homeless households living in UTA than most of us in England are aware.
The report is available here: