Cheap loans will help get tenants into homes
Council votes to back rent in advance scheme with £30k pilot
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.