Council to buy homes to help the homeless

A rough sleeper in St Peter's Arcade last year
A rough sleeper in St Peter's Arcade last year
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Homes in Peterborough will be bought up by the city council to house the growing numbers of homeless residents.

The announcement was made a week before the new benefits system Universal Credit (UC) is fully rolled out in Peterborough, which the council is warning could see people being evicted from their homes.

The number of homeless households in the city has increased from 97 to 328 in two years which has left the council resorting to putting families in Travelodges and bed and breakfasts at a high cost.

A new Peterborough City Council report says buying properties in the city will aim to “reduce the pressures on temporary accommodation and/or move more people into permanent accommodation.”

The number of properties and their locations will be revealed in January.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Peter Hiller said acquiring properties was something he has been “keen to pursue for a while.”

He added: “Homelessness increasing is a national problem affecting all local authorities and I am particularly conscious of the cost to our taxpayers of expensive temporary accommodation provision in hotels and B&Bs.”

Labour group leader Cllr Ed Murphy welcomed the announcement but said the party wants 350 council homes built every year and empty units converted into flats.

He added: “I think the council have listened to me and my calls to reduce the use of bed and breakfast and expensive hotels.”

UC, which sees six benefits merged into one payment, is fully rolled out here on Wednesday.

Its supporters say it makes work pay, but it has been criticised because claimants are not paid for six weeks.

The council says this could lead to rent arrears and people being evicted.