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From: The Socialist issue 700, 11 January 2012: We say: NO WAY! Strike to defend pensions

Search site for keywords: Housing - Accommodation - Households - Housing benefit - Children

Clock turned back on housing

Alison Hill

The cumulative effect of unemployment, a shortage of affordable housing and the cuts to housing benefit is turning the clock backwards on housing.

The magazine Inside Housing has done a survey of London Boroughs, revealing that 15 boroughs have already put 6,322 households in bed and breakfasts and hostels in 2011/12, compared to 7,461 in the whole of the last financial year.

The borough housing departments admit that bed and breakfast accommodation is the "last resort" but the figures are growing.

If the housing benefit you can claim doesn't cover the rent on available flats, all you are left with is shared accommodation in a probably run-down bed and breakfast. And the majority of households given this type of emergency accommodation will have young children.

This is going back to the days of families living in one room, living on chips or trying to cook as best they can. And it's a further subsidy to private landlords.

Croydon council housed 300 households in bed and breakfast accommodation this year. In 2008 the figure was 61. They have been offered two blocks of flats by a developer who cannot sell them. One is in Walsall and one in Manchester. That may be the only option for homeless families in the Croydon area, and not an easy option if you have children at school and relatives and friends in the area.

It's time to take over those empty blocks and enforce fair rents for all, or the Tories will have us all sleeping under a hedge.

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