Headlines: December 14th, 1998

The Government is pulling together a think-tank to find a solution to the increasing numbers of people in bed and breakfast accommodation.It comes after a further rise in use of such accommodation, as shown by new homelessness statistics.

Housing Minister Hilary Armstrong said: “The further 4 per cent national rise in the use of bed and breakfast accommodation is cause for concern. Pressure on the supply of temporary accommodation in London is particularly acute. The large number of asylum seekers in need of accommodation is a significant factor, but there are other forces at work.

“We have already announced proposals for a coherent new national scheme for providing support for asylum seekers. This will relieve the pressure in London, as they will be placed in suitable locations around the country. This scheme will, though, take some time to be set up comprehensively.

“The Government has therefore worked with the Local Government Association and the Association of London Government in launching a voluntary initiative to help ensure that newly-arrived asylum seekers are referred to local authorities outside London. We are also making an additional 30 million pounds available for supporting asylum seekers. The initiative should help bring more immediate relief to London.”

She also pointed up the incentives being given to local councils not to house families in bed and breakfast accommodation.