Children staying at a hotel in temporary accommodation during the first lockdown were ‘fenced off’ from using the garden and made to play in the car park, it has been claimed.
It is the latest claim to emerge as more than 2,800 families with children are currently staying in temporary accommodation, according to figures published in August, with 271 of these in bed and breakfast accommodation or hotels.
This week the LDRS revealed how one B&B was home to 155 children at the start of the first lockdown, with authorities from ‘across the region’ sending families to the location on the Hagley Road.
And now Cllr Lisa Trickett (Brandwood and King’s Heath), who first spoke about the B&B, has revealed further details of the kinds of conditions facing families in these situations.
“A number of these hotels operate mixed economy, so they’ll have paying guests on one side of the hotel and what they see as housing need on the other,” she said.
“And they’d actually fenced the families who were placed in the homeless agencies off from the garden. So we had children playing in the car park and not being able to use the garden that was part of the hotel.
“That is offensive, that is not the kind of state we should be seeking to provide.
“What we also have in temporary accommodation is, the rent levels are so high, and you have a benefit cap, so people can’t actually stay in work and stay in these hostels.
“So for many people lack of housing is also condemning them to lack of work. And I’ve seen examples of people who are trapped in very very low paid jobs that they can’t actually increase their hours, because if they increase their hours the rent wouldn’t be covered by their housing benefit for the temporary accommodation they’re in.
“So it’s this mad system that continues to make sure that people can’t get out of the situation of housing need. We absolutely have to start developing a housing offer to meet the communities of this city and region, and at the moment that means we have to develop far more, far faster, social housing.”
A total of 6,364 Birmingham children are in temporary accommodation of some kind due to homelessness, with the vast majority of families placed in council houses or housing from housing associations and private landlords.
However, in addition to the 271 staying in bed and breakfasts and hotel, another 347 homeless families with children are staying in hostels, with conditions often cramped and entire families sometimes confined to one room, as was the case with the B&B on the Hagley Road.
And Cllr Trickett says she absolutely expects the same scenario to play out in the coming weeks and months, as the second lockdown in England continues.
“We are failing a generation if we do not start to address this now,” she said.
“These bed and breakfasts are being used today, tomorrow, and have been used for months and months. Temporary accommodation in the city that people can’t afford to pay the rent on has been in use for months and months.
“I’ve consistently raised the impact of this rent on people’s ability to work and to secure the independence of their family.
“There are restrictions on how long a family can be in bed and breakfast – my understanding is for families to not be in a single property for more than six weeks.
“But what you then find is that people move about – again, I’ve had constituents who have been in three or four different properties – what do you think that does to a child’s education?”