St Albans councillor claims B&Bs are an ‘inhuman form of temporary accommodation’

Cllr Rev Robert Donald

Cllr Rev Robert Donald - Credit: Archant

A campaign is in place to get the council to stop issuing bed and breakfast accommodation to homeless people.

Councillor Reverend Robert Donald has twice raised the issue of the unsuitability of this kind of temporary accommodation with St Albans District Council and it is now going to be raised at the cabinet meeting. This means that it could soon become policy not to temporarily house people in B&Bs and hotels.

His proposal is that by December 2020 bed and breakfasts are only used in ‘one-off unforeseen circumstances’.

Cllr Rev Donald said: “The use of bed and breakfast as temporary accommodation for the homeless has become a routine practice of the council rather than an occasional one off last resort.

“Especially for homeless families with children this is an inhuman form of temporary housing in the 21st century. At a time when they need the support of friends, family and the community nearby to help most we are taking many of the homeless away from their community support and placing them outside the district at council taxpayers’ expense in a Premier Inn or Travelodge in Hatfield, Borehamwood, Luton or Welwyn.”

Cllr Donald maintained that education is disrupted and children’s personal development is threatened. He said that at a time when they need maximum stability, families are being put under greater emotional stress.

One woman paid £40 a day in taxi fares to keep her child at Fleetville School, as she was accommodated out of the area.

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Cllr Brian Ellis, housing and inclusion portfolio holder, said: “The council has a statutory duty to house homeless people: at present we have 138 households in temporary accommodation of which six are in B&B, reducing to three by the end of the week.

“Our policy is not to use B&B unless there is no alternative, we are having to do so at present partly because an eight unit block we own has been damaged by flooding. It is being repaired and will be back in use in May. We are also acquiring more temporary accommodation. I hope that this, plus other measures we are taking, will minimise our use of B&B.”

The issue will be debated at the cabinet meeting today.