This article was written by Senior Reporter Sara Odeen-Ibister and was published on Wednesday 21st March in the Barking and Dagenham Post. You can view the original version here:
Jon Cruddas describes rise in homelessness as "truly shocking"
Barking and Dagenham has the third highest number of households living in bed and breakfasts in the country, recent government statistics have revealed. The figures, released by government last week, also show the area has one of the top 10 highest proportions of families living in temporary accommodation.
Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas has described the situation as “truly shocking” and claimed the coalition government has not done enough to protect families from falling into homelessness.
Homelessness across England has increased by a total of 14 per cent over the past year, according to statistics from the Department of Communities and Local Government. Between October and December 2011 alone the number of homeless people in the borough increased by 58 households, putting the average number in temporary accommodation at 14.98 per 1,000 households.
Barking and Dagenham Council, which says the increase is largely down to the state of the economy, acknowledged the borough has faced significant pressures in this area and has been forced to resort to bed and breakfast accommodation because of “the difficulty of accessing privately rented accommodation”.
Mr Cruddas, who has campaigned for more affordable housing, said: “The new figures on homelessness in Barking and Dagenham are truly shocking. It’s nothing less than a tragedy that so many families in the borough still do not have a home to call their own.
“The economic and housing policies of this Conservative-led coalition government are totally and utterly failing this area.”
The council says it is working hard to create more homes in the borough. “A spokesman said: “We are now completing our initial programme of 142 new council houses and we will be embarking on a further 330 new homes in the next 18 months. We have just signed a deal to build a further 477 affordable homes across two sites in Barking. We are also converting former older people’s homes, such as Brocklebank Lodge, to provide alternatives to B&B accommodation.”