Peterborough returns to using hotels as temporary accommodation for homeless households
Nearly 100 homeless households in Peterborough are currently being accommodated in hotels - more than a year after the city council stopped relying on them for temporary accommodation.
Currently, 98 households have been placed in B&B accommodation out of a total of 397 receiving support.
This is in stark contrast to the situation in March 2020 where the council was no longer reliant on the use of hotels after fighting hard to overcome a large rise in homelessness in the city.
At the peak of the crisis, the authority was sending homeless families from Peterborough to Travelodges in places such as Doncaster, but since then it has acquired new properties, as well as hired more staff to prevent people losing their homes and needing support.
Hotels were used to accommodate rough sleepers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as part of the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ directive, however, these figures are separate to that.
A council spokesperson explained: “While the number of households accommodated under these arrangements are not reported in the Government’s H-Clic return, some of these households initially identified under the ‘Everyone In’ initiative were identified as being owed a homeless duty.
“This included 11 households accommodated between October and December 2020 - initially in B&B style accommodation before they were found alternative accommodation. None of these households included children.
“A household is owed a homeless duty when they are confirmed as eligible to make an application, are homeless and are considered to be more vulnerable than the ordinary person who may be homeless.”
The return of B&Bs for homeless households (none of which include children) came as the council was forced to reduce occupancy in its hostels during the pandemic as they have shared kitchen and toilet facilities.
However, the council spokesperson said: “We have now full use of the hostels and occupancy has increased back to normal levels.”
The number of households currently being placed in a hostel is 67.
None of the people who are currently being housed in a hotel has been placed outside of Peterborough.
The council spokesperson added: “The council had worked hard to minimise and eradicate the use of B&B accommodation for homeless households.
“The numbers are reducing, and as we move further through the stages of lockdown we expect numbers to decrease further until we get to a position where we are only using B&B/hotel accommodation in an emergency.”
Government data has also revealed that in 2019/20, the use of hotels for temporary accommodation cost the council £2.17 million, which included £102,000 for three employees who provide co-ordination and support.
In total during that period, £5 million was spent on all temporary accommodation.
The council spokesperson added: “Senior officers are regularly in communication with suppliers looking to negotiate prices down as for as possible.
“Strict controls are in place to ensure those we helped generally qualified and strenuous efforts were made to ensure we stayed within budget.”
Council cabinet member for housing Cllr Steve Allen said: “The use of hotels for families will always be only as a last resort.”