Chesterfield council spends thousands of pounds every week on temporary housing for homeless families

Chesterfield Borough Council spends thousands of pounds every week on temporary accommodation for homeless families, new figures reveal.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 11:20 am
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 11:27 am

Housing charity Shelter says councils are being forced to waste ‘vast sums’ on unsuitable temporary accommodation because of a failure to invest in social housing – after the bill rose to more than £1billion a year across England.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government figures show Chesterfield Borough Council spent £229,000 providing temporary accommodation to homeless households in 2018-19 – £4,400 per week.

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Chesterfield Town Hall.

This was a 56 per cent increase on the previous year, £82,000 more over the year.

Last year, £44,000 was spent on bed and breakfast accommodation, which is charged via nightly rates and can be far more expensive than housing rented by a short-term lease.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said the figures were a shocking but ‘entirely preventable consequence’ of the country’s housing emergency.

She said: “If consecutive Governments had built the genuinely affordable social homes that are needed, fewer people would be homeless, and we would not be wasting vast sums on unsuitable temporary accommodation.

“What’s even more shameful is that so much of this public money is lining the pockets of unscrupulous private landlords, who can charge desperate councils extortionate rates for grim B&Bs, because there’s nowhere else for families to go.”

Liz Cook, assistant director for housing at Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “In recent years there has been a number of national changes that have had a direct impact on homelessness services and the use of temporary accommodation in Chesterfield.

“The council has, however, made it a priority to commit to reducing the use of temporary accommodation.

“The council is currently reviewing supported accommodation options in the area with a view to increasing specialist accommodation for those most in need.

“We’ll be working with a range of partners within the social housing sector to develop and increase the provision of housing options in the area, which will help us in addressing the increasing use of temporary accommodation.”

Across England, more than 30 per cent of the total was spent on B&B places and a further 12 per cent on other nightly accommodation.

Spending on B&Bs has more than doubled over the last five years

Ms Neate added: “This is a crisis we cannot allow politicians to ignore during this election.

“Social housing must be at the heart of every manifesto, and all parties must commit to at least 90,000 new social homes a year over the next parliament.

“If they don’t, all of us will pay an even higher price,” she added.