BUDGET: Rise in homelessness to cost Peterborough City Council extra £5.7 million in three years

A rough sleeper in St Peter's Arcade last year
A rough sleeper in St Peter's Arcade last year
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The rising number of homeless people in Peterborough will cost the city council an extra £5.7 million in three years’ time.

The council has seen a rise of more than 200 per cent in the number of homeless households over the past two years, rising to 328 at the end of September 2017 from 97 in 2015.

The huge increase has forced the council to use B&B-type accommodation to put up homeless families which costs the authority a lot more than housing them in normal temporary accommodation.

And with homelessness in the city expected to increase, the council expects the money it spends on providing temporary accommodation to rise a lot over the next three years, from an additional £1.6 million in 2018/19 to an extra £5.7 million by April 2021.

The figures were provided in the council’s first set of proposals for its 2018/19 budget.

The council said: “Previously this combination of social and private landlords has met demand from homeless households, however this is no longer

the case for a number of reasons:

. Recent increases in private rental costs, while Local Housing Allowance rates have been frozen by the Government has meant the majority of rental properties are no longer affordable for those households that claim benefits

. An increasing reluctance from landlords to accept households who are in receipt of support with housing benefits and Universal Credit. This is mainly because these benefits are paid in arrears

.●Changes to taxation rules mean landlords with smaller portfolios no longer see it as profitable and are selling their properties. The use of private accommodation as suitable permanent accommodation for homeless families has therefore fallen to a very low level.

“Other factors that have reduced permanent accommodation options include the Government’s right to buy policy and significant reductions in government funding to build new affordable homes.

“This means that at a time when the demand from households requiring assistance has been increasing, the availability of permanent accommodation options have been decreasing.”

The council said there will be a need for around 110 households to be accommodated in B&B type accommodation in 2017/18 at any one time.

But it added: “It is highly likely that the city will continue to see an increase in the number of households presenting to us for assistance. Reasons for this include:

●. Universal Credit - being rolled out in Peterborough in November 2017 and pilot areas are reporting a 12 per cent increase in eviction action due to rent arrears. Therefore we a forecasting a similar increase from January 2018.

.● Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 - anyone accepted by the council as being threatened with homelessness within 56 days will be owed the new prevention duty which could include placing them into temporary accommodation at an earlier point in the process than is presently required.

“Government forecasts expect the act, which becomes law on April 1, 2018, will increase demand by a further 26 per cent.”