Gloucester City Council wants to borrow £5m to help homeless crisis
By Laura Enfield | 6th November 2023
Gloucester City Council wants to borrow up to £5million to buy buildings for the rapidly increasing number of homeless people in the city.
The number of households facing life on the streets have leapt up in the last six months and the council has been forced to put many up in expensive hotels.
The result is a £1.1m overspend on temporary accommodation in the 2023/24 budget.
Now it wants to borrow an extra £5m to help “put a dent” in the problem and has earmarked properties it wants to buy.
The council has a legal duty to help homeless families but only three buildings to put them in and has not seen an increase in government funding for the problem in years.
A report going to cabinet on Wednesday (Nov 8) revealed there are 182 households in temporary council accommodation- a rise of 12% in 12 months.
Of these just 11% are in council-owned buildings and 38 households are in hotel rooms, compared to 10 households last year
It is hoped the £5m will help ease the crisis but it will not solve it as the continuing cost-of-living crisis is expected to see more families needing help.
The report said: “The scale of the current demand is such that the approach outlined in this report will not fully address the issue.”
Cllr Richard Cook, leader of the council, said: “We are looking at properties that are available and have earmarked some we are interested in purchasing.
“Hopefully it will be enough to make a dent in the cost of temporary accommodation.
“But there is a huge problem with homelessness due to the cost of living, refugees and rents going up.
“Hotels are so expensive and we haven’t seen an increase in funding from the Government in -line with inflation.”
“Government is aware of the problem and a letter went out from the district councils last week urging them to do more.
“Our cabinet member has also met with Gloucester MP Richard Graham to discuss the issue and urge him to take up the issue with ministers.”
The report Temporary Accommodation Acquisition Programme said the council has seen a “marked increase” in those needing help in the last six months. It pinpoints the cause as a disparity in the cost of renting compared to local housing allowance rates.
It said: “It is anticipated that, due to the current social conditions, increases in homelessness applications and the need to place in temporary accommodation over the coming year will continue to rise.”
It said this will continue to place a “significant burden” on the council’s temporary housing budget.
The report said the council will look for properties in all wards of the city and in surrounding districts and where necessary will procure tenancy management contracts for the buildings.
It said this will reduce the use of the “costliest hotel accommodation” but further work will be needed to reduce other costs and prevent homelessness going forward.
The cabinet will vote on Wednesday whether to green light the project.
Punchline says: “The council is between a rock and a hard place because they can’t keep paying for expensive hotels for these families but haven’t been given the means to provide accommodation elsewhere.”
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