Temporary Accommodation: London’s hidden homelessness crisis

This report recommends solutions to improve the experience of homeless households living in temporary accommodation in London.


Temporary accommodation is only ever intended as a short-term solution whilst homeless households wait for a permanent home, but many Londoners are stuck in the system.

London is England’s centre of temporary accommodation, with 59% of all households who rely on the service nationwide living in London; this represents nearly 56,500 households, including 75,580 children. Our report warns that this already high level of demand is likely to be increased further by financial troubles for many Londoners this winter, as inflation and living expenses rise. 
This also places strain on local authorities, who can struggle to provide high-quality accommodation to everyone who needs it. They sometimes run the risk of placing households in cramped ‘bed & breakfast’ accommodation, or relocating them outside of their home borough and separating households from vital connections. 
The power to address these problems lies with national government, who can tackle the issue if they give it priority. We call on them to take action by addressing issues in the welfare system and building more homes. We also recommend that councils follow ‘good practice’ when delivering temporary accommodation.

Key conclusions 

  • The government should make the welfare system more generous to support people out of homelessness, by either raising or removing London’s £23,000 benefit cap, and unfreezing Local Housing Allowance rates to match the real cost of housing in London.
  • The government should build more ‘general needs’ affordable homes to ease overall supply issues, as London’s temporary accommodation crisis is impossible to separate from the wider housebuilding crisis. They should also work with the Mayor of London to subsidise councils in increasing their own supply of temporary accommodation.
  • The government should increase the value of homelessness prevention grants to help councils assist those at increased risk of homelessness due to the cost-of-living crisis.
  • The government should set up a cross-departmental working group tasked with solving supply issues of temporary accommodation and identify their cost to the public purse
  • When allocating temporary accommodation, local authorities should calculate estimated travel times to and from new accommodation based on walking times and available bus routes, as homeless families are less likely to use cars or trains due to their increased cost.
  •  As part of good practice, local authorities should also ensure that families with children should not be allocated nightly paid accommodation without a kitchen. 

Supporting Sponsors

This project has been generously supported by