DCLG figures reveal 45% rise in households with children living in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation.
The number of families with children living in emergency B&Bs in England rose by 45% in the 12 months to the end of September, the highest level in 12 years, official figures show.
A total of 3,000 households with children were in bed and breakfast-style accommodation on 30 September 2015, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said. Of these, just under a third had been in that kind of accommodation for more than six weeks.
The figure is the highest since the summer of 2003 and underlines how councils are struggling to find suitable lodgings for homeless families.
The DCLG said the main reason for the loss of a settled home was the end of a private tenancy and that it had become an increasingly frequent cause in the past six years as the number of tenants in private rented homes had risen.
In 2009-10, 11% of households seeking help from councils had been living in a private rented home previously, but by 2014-15 this had risen to 29%, and between June and September it reached 31%.
Local councils use B&Bs to house homeless families when they are unable to find social or private rented housing to accommodate them. Often parents and children live in a single room, with kitchens and bathrooms shared with other tenants.
Other temporary housing includes hostels and refuges, supported lodgings and self-contained annexes – usually small units that may include a shower, a gas stove or electric hob, and a fridge.
DCLG figures showed there were 68,560 households across all types of temporary accommodation,13% higher than on 30 September 2014. A quarter of these have been moved away to a different council area.
Among these were 103,430 children or expected children. Households with dependent children and/or a pregnant woman who are vulnerable in some way are among the priority groups for councils considering homelessness applications.
The DCLG said that between 1 July and 30 September, local authorities received 29,050 applications for assistance from households reporting as homeless, a 2% increase on the same period in 2014. Of these, 50% were accepted, 4% more than the previous year. London accounted for a third of acceptances, at 4,700 households.
In the capital, the number of households in temporary accommodation as at 30 September 2015 was 50,490. This is a 10% increase compared with the same date in 2014 (45,810) and accounts for 74% of the total England figure. There was a 20% rise in the number of households in temporary accommodation in the rest of England, from 15,100 on 30 September 2014 to 18,080 on 30 September 2015.
Across England, 2,600 foreign national applicants were accepted as homeless.
Campbell Rob, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said: “These figures are a heart-breaking reminder that thousands of families will wake up homeless this Christmas morning – many hidden away in a cramped and dingy B&B or hostel room, sometimes miles away from everyone and everything they know.
“With the double blow of cuts to welfare and a chronic lack of affordable housing, many more families are facing a desperate battle to keep a roof over their heads.”
Recent figures showed that although the number of affordable homes in England rose by 55% in 2014-15, the majority were for rent at 80% of market value, while the number of social rented properties fell.