The Welsh Liberal Democrats Housing spokesperson, Peter Black has used an Assembly question time to call on the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty to implement a total ban on placing independent homeless 16 and 17 year olds in unsupported bed and breakfast accommodation
Mr. Black highlighted a recent BBC Freedom of Information request for Week In Week Out, which found that over the past five years, 750 children aged 16 and 17 were sent to bed and breakfast establishments in Wales. Of those more than 100 stayed longer than the six week limit.
The Welsh Government’s Suitability (Wales) Order 2015 allows independent children to be accommodated in ‘higher standard’ B&B for up to 6 weeks and in ‘basic standard’ accommodation for up to 2 weeks.
“A recent study by Shelter Cymru found young people who had been housed in B&Bs as care leavers,” said Mr. Black. “They cited one man whsaid that he was exposed to drink and drugs while there, and who felt that the experience had directly contributed to his subsequent substance misuse and mental health problems.
“The study also found that local authorities are spending up to £490 per room, per week on bed and breakfast accommodation. That is money that could be better spent on providing more sustainable accommodation such as Drwys Agored in Swansea or alternatives such as volunteer host schemes. These schemes achieve good outcomes but are currently only available in 4 Local Authorities in Wales.
“I would like to see the Welsh Government set out a plan to totally ban the placement of independent 16-17 year olds in unsupported bed and breakfast establishments and seek to reduce the use of B&B altogether for all homeless households. I am pleased that the Minister agreed to look into this.”