£3.5m rise in spending on Peterborough’s homeless

St Michael's Gate, Parnwell. EMN-161025-173120009
St Michael's Gate, Parnwell. EMN-161025-173120009
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The amount of money spent on people living in temporary accommodation in Peterborough has rocketed up by nearly £3.5 million in two years.

The spend by Peterborough City Council has increased from £280,384 in 2015/16 to more than £3.7 million in 2017/18, the last financial year.

The council said an “unprecedented increase” in the number of households presenting themselves as homeless was the cause of the rise.

The number of homeless households in the city rose from 97 in 2015 to 328 two years later which the council said was largely due to welfare reforms and a greater tax burden on landlords.

There are currently 44 households being accommodated in Travelodges which costs the authority on average just under £300 a week for each unit.

This is despite the council putting up 77 households in St Michael’s Gate, the estate in Parnwell where all the tenants were evicted around two years ago by a private firm.

After the evictions the council was offered the homes as temporary accommodation in a three year deal worth just under £1 million a year.

The authority has always argued that if it had not agreed to the deal a London borough would have taken the homes instead and brought their homeless families into the city, adding to the demand on services here.

The St Michael’s Gate saga was covered both nationally and internationally at the time, and even last week BBC’s current affairs programme Newsnight did a long piece from the estate.

Responding to the figures on temporary accommodation spend, Peterborough City Council said the significant increase was “due to an unprecedented increase in demand from households presenting to us as homeless, at the same time as seeing reducing numbers of available affordable rented accommodation.

“We have significantly increased capacity in our housing team to escalate our prevention work and have committed significant capital investment, via a joint venture vehicle, to both purchase and build new affordable rented housing in the coming months.”

A fortnight ago there were 383 people living in temporary accommodation in Peterborough. Aside from those in Travelodges and St Michael’s Gate, 52 were at Elizabeth Court in Park ward, 75 in hostels, 21 in private sector leased accommodation and 115 in contracted bed and breakfast type accommodation.

The council currently delivers social housing in a joint venture called Medesham Homes with housing association Cross Keys Homes.

Last year it agreed to invest £34 million to secure new accommodation.