B&B accommodation for Peterborough’s homeless to end due to property boost

Bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless families in Peterborough is set to come to an end.
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The city council expects to have all residents out of B&Bs by the end of March, a far cry from the desperate situation a couple of years ago where it was having to place people in Travelodges many miles away.

Homelessness levels in Peterborough suddenly spiked six years ago, with the council blaming the new benefits system Universal Credit and tax changes for landlords.

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A rough sleeper in Long Causeway. EMN-190114-152339009A rough sleeper in Long Causeway. EMN-190114-152339009
A rough sleeper in Long Causeway. EMN-190114-152339009

Things reached a tipping point when it was revealed that the authority had agreed to lease 72 properties at St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell from a private housing firm which had evicted the residents living on the estate for profit, while the Peterborough Telegraph revealed that some families were being sent to hotels or hostels in places as far away as Manchester.

However, despite demand continuing to rise the council in January 2019 confirmed it was no longer using Travelodges for the city’s homeless, and in more welcome news it today (Friday) announced that it expects to no longer use costly B&B-type accommodation from the end of the financial year, although it acknowledged there may be isolated cases in exceptional circumstances.

As a result it expects to save £1.52 million a year on homelessness support. The announcement was made in the council’s latest budget proposals.

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The council said: “The number of families or single persons in temporary accommodation reached 416 households in December 2019.

“In May 2019, the number of families and single persons in Bed and Breakfast reached a peak of 110. Since the introduction of a specialist housing resource the Bed and Breakfast use has reduced by 67 per cent to 36.

“This trajectory is expected to continue.”

The council has embarked on a series of measures to provide new temporary accommodation to respond to the crisis.

This includes buying homes off the open market, leasing homes from private landlords and building new temporary accommodation through Medesham Homes, its joint venture alongside housing association Cross Keys Homes.

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The council’s spending on homelessness increased by 68 per cent between 2016/17 and 2017/18 and by another 16.5 per cent the following year.

In total, the council is having to tackle a deficit of nearly £40 million.In January, the Conservative-run administration voted through savings of £24 million, with the latest proposals seeking to bridge the remaining gap.

Articles relating to the budget will go on the Peterborough Telegraph’s website from 5pm today (Friday) until Monday morning.