Shepway District Council’s Bed & Breakfast costs have risen to their highest level ever. In September costs stood at £657,958 and with October’s and November’s Payment to suppliers data now published, costs have now risen to nearly £900,000. In any one year since records began, B&B costs have never exceeded £622,000, until this financial year – 17/18. They have already reached a staggering £890,000 and will have easily breached the £1 million pound barrier by the end of March 2018.
There is no doubt now that B&B costs will break the million pound barrier by the end of the financial year (March 2018). So what has brought SDC to this historic point?
In part it coincides with the introduction of Universal Credit. UC as it is commonly known has been plagued with problems and here in Shepway that is as much true as it is for the rest of the country. It has led to soaring debt and rent arrears; which many landlords cannot afford to carry – justifiably. It is this solitary aspect of UC which has apparently caused most of the damage and led to a staggering rise in tenants been asked to move on, thus going into B&B creating in part for the Council’s costs to rise significantly. There is no doubt other causes such as women fleeing domestic violence, family breakdown, wellbeing issues and the weather to name but a few.
Just in this year alone one can see the rise, through May to October in the graph below. This pattern is evident through the data in each financial year since SDC started publishing their Payment to suppliers data in April 2012.
In 2015 Councils across England & Wales were spending £623,000 every DAY on bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless people in England. Two years on that figure has risen to almost £850,000 a day.
The evidence from SDC’s figures show that the Council is struggling to help homeless families in the district; which includes children. Shelter’s latest report puts the figures for Children in B&B in Shepway at 86. That’s 86 too many in our opinion.
Welfare cuts, as we said earlier have made private rents unaffordable and that – combined with unpredictable rent rises and a lack of genuinely affordable homes – mean many families are struggling to get by. Also the U – Turn on Social Housing by the present Govt has not helped either.
In the LGA “Housing and Homelessness” Report published in June 2017, mentions the following:
Reducing the use of B&B accommodation for families is perhaps the most important single goal that many councils face in their homelessness provision.
Not only is B&B for families illegal, except in an emergency for up to six weeks, but it usually provides poor quality, overcrowded accommodation with shared facilities, which are likely to have a real impact on the mental and physical health of both children and their parents who stay in the accommodation for any length of time.
B&B for families is also currently very expensive to councils, who cannot recoup the full costs of B&B from housing benefit.
The last point will not change until sometime in 2018. Meanwhile, the life chances of those 86 children slide ever downwards. To blame our Conservative led administration here in Shepway would be fool hardy. It is the seven years of a Conservative led administration (presently propped up by the DUP) in the House of Commons which has taken us to this point and that U – Turn in June of this year on Social Housing.
Homelessness is now a serious risk for working families with stable jobs who cannot find somewhere affordable to live after being evicted by private-sector landlords seeking higher rents, the local government ombudsman has warned.
If you or anyone you know is threatened with homelessness, then we advise you to contact:
Shepway District Council, on 01303 853000 or email email@example.com
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau in George Lane, Folkestone on 01303 241435: Drop in sessions available on: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday 9.30am – 12.30pm
Folkestone Winter Shelter here
or Action on homelessness in folkestone, facebook page
The Shepwayvox Team