Cheap loans will help get ten­ants into homes

Coun­cil votes to back rent in ad­vance scheme with £30k pi­lot

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

The rent in ad­vance loan scheme has been set up to help those who need im­me­di­ate sup­port to se­cure a pri­vate ten­ancy, and is aimed at pre­vent­ing home­less­ness for peo­ple who do not meet the statu­tory hous­ing need cri­te­ria.

Bucks County Coun­cil’s cab­i­net has ap­proved a rec­om­men­da­tion to al­lo­cate a to­tal of £30,000 in loans for the ini­tia­tive via a credit union.

The aim is that the loans will help peo­ple pay a month’s rent in ad­vance in or­der to re­move a stum­bling block in help­ing to find a ten­ancy.

The loan will then be re­paid over time and the money re­cy­cled to help other peo­ple in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

The coun­cil’s de­ci­sion fol­lows a three month in­quiry on be­half of the fi­nance, per­for­mance and re­sources se­lect com­mit­tee.

The in­quiry found that the many peo­ple are blocked from se­cur­ing their own ten­ancy be­cause – de­spite be­ing able to pay a de­posit – they can­not then find the cash for the first month, which is usu­ally re­quired in ad­vance.

Coun­cil­lor Steven Lam­bert in a speech to cab­i­net, rec­om­mended the pi­lot scheme.

He said: “This is de­signed to ini­tially help around 60 peo­ple across the county with more peo­ple be­ing able to ac­cess the funds as the loan is re­paid and the money re­cy­cled.

“By work­ing with part­ners such as the credit unions, we be­lieve that the scheme really will close that gap and close the cir­cle of de­spair that peo­ple find them­selves in.

“We as an author­ity will be seen as a trail­blazer, and as our rec­om­men­da­tions set out, we can seek to ad­dress those with the high­est level of com­plex needs and end that cir­cle of de­spair, but with such a mod­est sum of money we could make a big dif­fer­ence.”

Cab­i­net mem­bers agreed it was a wor­thy scheme but ques­tioned whether it was ap­pro­pri­ate to spend £30,000 dur­ing the cur­rent spend­ing freeze.

How­ever, Martin Phillips, cab­i­net mem­ber for com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and pub­lic health, ex­plained it was a loan which would be paid back.

“It’s not lost money,” he said.

“In terms of so­cial value, for ba­si­cally very lit­tle in­vest­ment we are get­ting a lot re­turn and it seems quite a clever way of us­ing our money in a time when in­ter­est rates are so low.”

The Cab­i­net agreed to go ahead with the pi­lot scheme in prin­ci­ple from the next fi­nan­cial year in 2016 but will re­visit it at the time in case the sit­u­a­tion changes.

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