A Suffolk council's letter calling for housing benefit to be increased has been backed by almost 300 council leaders as the authority revealed it was now making use of bed and breakfasts to cope with soaring numbers in temporary accommodation.

East Suffolk Council has written to the Department for Work and Pensions calling for the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to be increased to cope with soaring private rents as the local authority grappled with six times as many people living in temporary accommodation than three years ago.

On current trends, the number of households in temporary accommodation in the district is set to rise by 48% by the end of the current financial year in March, compared to 2022-23, due mainly to the cost-of-living crisis and private rents.

The result has been that the council is having to use more 'nightly let' and B&B accommodation.

The news comes after it was revealed Ipswich Borough Council was spending about 7% of its budget on dealing with accommodation for homeless residents.

David Beavan, East Suffolk's cabinet member for housing, said: “To lose your home is devastating.

"We urgently need to help families rebuild their lives.

"Temporary accommodation can have a detrimental impact for families and single households and as such we do all we can to prevent homelessness or find alternative housing solutions to those seeking assistance.

"If the government updated housing benefit, it would mean that we could afford better temporary accommodation, build more social homes and stop private renters from being evicted in the first place.

"Today, 276 council leaders from all political parties came together to sign this urgent call to action from the Government in the autumn statement.”

East Anglian Daily Times: David Beavan of East Suffolk CouncilDavid Beavan of East Suffolk Council (Image: Sarah Lucy Brown)

LHA rates are calculated on the basis of private rents, but rates have been frozen since 2018-19 when the cost of renting privately was lower than now.

A spokesperson for the council said: "East Suffolk continues to support all households presenting to the local authority seeking housing advice and assistance and we will continue to utilise all preventative measures to ensure people can remain in their own homes if at all possible.

"However, due to the current pressures and lack of affordability we continue to see an increase in presentations and this is unlikely to change in the coming year."