District council foots bill as rising number of households are declared homeless

Huntingdonshire District Council

Huntingdonshire District Council - Credit: Archant

A lack of affordable housing and an increasing demand for rental homes saw Huntingdonshire District Council’s bill to house homeless people in bed and breakfast accommodation rise to more than £400,000 last year.

Between April 1, 2016, and April 30, this year, the authority had to pay for temporary accommodation for 189 households, who were declared homeless.

According to the council, about 65 per cent of those households were parents with children.

Figures released following a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request by The Hunts Post showed that the amount spent by the council had risen by 103.42 per cent year-on-year, from £198,619 in 2015/16 to £404,027 the 2016/17.

John Taylor, head of customer services at the district council, said: “The council works to try and alleviate the need to use B&Bs. We work with local housing associations to provide temporary housing options, and continue to try to bring other properties into use whenever possible.

“The use of B&Bs is always a last resort, but given the current rate of homelessness, and our need to house households who are in a crisis situation, its use has increased. We recognise this issue, and we are working hard to tackle it.”

As well as an increased spend, the FOI request also revealed a rise each year in the number of households who were placed in B&Bs.

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In 2016/17 there were 189 households placed in B&B accommodation, an increase from 165 in 2014/15 and 173 in 2015/16.

“Private tenancies with landlords are not affordable to some on lower incomes and this, together with high demands on social rented homes, means there has been an increase in the number of households placed in temporary housing,” Mr Taylor said.

“Unfortunately some people are staying longer in B&Bs, and other forms of temporary housing, because we are not able to move them into settled homes, resulting in higher costs.”

To help tackle the issue, the district council has entered into a partnership with other local authorities and public sector organisations covering Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to secure funding of £736,000, money which will be spent county-wide.

The council is also set to increase the supply of new housing in the district from up to 600 homes to more than 1,000 this year, which will include the acceleration of affordable housing.