Rip-off fury as council bill to house homeless surges to £1bn a year
PUBLIC spending on temporary accommodation in England has surged by more than 70 per cent in the past five years to nearly £1billion, figures suggest.
The £413million rise, described by one council leader as a “rip-off”, stems from a growing homeless population and private providers raising their charges.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show English councils spent £997million on temporary accommodation in 2017/18.
Five years earlier, they spent £584million – 71 per cent less. And in the past five years, there has been a 47 per cent rise in the number of English households in temporary accommodation. Comparing the data with population per council, analysis suggests some councils are spending up to £200 per head of their population on sheltering homeless house- holds. The national average was £18 per head.
All 32 London boroughs were in the top-spending 45 authorities. Hackney was highest, at £208 per head.
Outside London, Luton came 17th at £77 per head and Manchester was the highest area beyond the South-east, spending £30.
Darren Rodwell, London Councils housing and planning executive member and leader of Barking and Dagenham council in east London, said: “These figures show how local authorities and taxpayers are being ripped off by failings in the national approach to this issue.
“It’s clear we can’t keep relying on increasingly expensive private sector accommodation, so more must be done to boost provision of social housing.” Shelter campaign director Greg Beales said the £1billion bill “is getting even higher as landlords charge desperate councils over the odds for some of the least suitable and worst places for homeless families to live”.
Heather Wheeler, the minister for housing and homelessness, said temporary accommodation was an “important safety net”, which ensured the most vulnerable had a roof over their heads until longer-term housing could be found.
She said: “We’re providing more than £1.2billion to tackle all forms of homelessness.
“This includes funding for programmes which will support more homeless families into long-term private rented accommodation.”
Heather Wheeler... ‘safety net’