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Hostels may help reduce costs of temporary accommodation

Sunday, 12 November 2023 13:19

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

Cllr Malcolm Prowse. (image courtesy of North Devon Council)

Solutions sought as B&B costs rise

North Devon Council may consider creating hostels for homeless people as its temporary accommodation bill rockets.

Currently 67 households live in council-funded B&B accommodation and 19 in the local authority’s own temporary accommodation in North Devon.

Councillors were told at a strategy and resources committee meeting that an increase in people needing temporary homes and a rise in B&B fees from £60 to £70 a night had resulted in extra costs of £190,000 from July to September .

The cost of providing temporary housing from 2022 to 2024 now stands at over £4 million.

Whilst the number of people needing public housing remains high, the council’s decision to buy its own properties had significantly improved the situation, said deputy chief executive Jon Triggs.

“If we extend that further it will reduce the pressure on the budget,” he said.

He said extra costs this year had been offset by an additional homelessness grant but there is likely to be continuing demand on the budget unless there is further funding from the government.

North Devon Council matched the money it received from the government’s  Local Authority Housing Fund with £2 million for 13 home to help families into stable homes.

Cllr Matthew Prowse (Ind, Bratton Fleming) said with interest rates at around five per cent, and the legal fees involved in buying property, it might be a wiser option to look at hostels which could house more people.

Mt Triggs said it might be a good idea to get bigger properties broken up into smaller units. He said six new homes had just been purchased in a new q development for temporary housing.

The council has recently recruited a residential property officer to manage its expanding housing portfolio.

Earlier this year, the Local Government Association which represent councils  revealed that the number of households living in temporary accommodation has risen by 89 per cent over the past decade. There were  104,000 at the end of March 2023 – the highest figures since records began in 1998 – costing councils at least £1.75 billion.

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