Folkestone & Hythe District Council (FHDC) Bed & Breakfast costs for the financial year 17/18 are £1,164,836. When compared to last years financial figures when FHDC spent £573,536 for the same period. This means that the percentage year on year rise for B&B costs have risen by a staggering 103%.
The Cabinet Member and Councillor responsible for B&B costs is Cllr Alan Ewart James (pictured below left). We made it known to him and to FHDC that we the Shepwayvox Team predicted that B&B costs would break the million pound barrier back in Oct 2017. Cllr Ewart James has created history, he is a record breaker, as the B&B figures have NEVER been this high.
According to Hythe Town Cllr Laura Sullivan (Lab) (47 mins onwards) there are 1,457 on the Council’s Housing Register, half of these are families.
Back in Oct 2016 Cllr Mary Lawes elicited from Cllr Ewart-James in a question she put at full Council that 1,500 households were on the Housing Register of FHDC.
So between Oct 2016 and the 12th April 2018 – a period of eighteen months – did the man responsible for the Housing portfolio house half the households? Or is the veracity of the information supplied by Cllr Ewart-James credible? We ask this because according to Report C-17-58 presented to Cabinet on Nov 15, 2017 it states
The high cost of home ownership has created higher competition for private rented housing and increased rental costs, meaning this option is no longer affordable for many households.
Government Welfare Reform, Benefit caps, (Bedroom Tax) and Local Housing Allowance caps limit the number of private rented properties locally that are affordable, therefore the number of working homeless households looks set to grow.
And at Para 2.1 of the Report it states:
Now this totally contradicts an FoI Request released by FHDC to our public face on the 27/03/18. The FOI clearly states in 15/16 they received 799 Homeless approaches and 1,109 homeless approaches in 16/17. This is a percentage increase of 38.8% year on year, NOT 10% as FHDC claim. So why the misrepresentation by FHDC? Might you explain Cllr Alan Ewart-James, as you are the Portfolio holder and Cabinet member RESPONSIBLE for Housing for FHDC?
Councillors, or members of the public with any questions arising out of the report should also contact the following officers:
Adrian Hammond Housing Strategy Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Damiral Housing Options and Inclusion Manager email@example.com
Is the veracity of data presented by FHDC in para 2.1, mentioned above, worth the paper it is written on? And who is responsible for spreading contradictory information Cllr Ewart James?
Now do remember that FHDC are in their second “transformation (downsizing) programme“, so stress on staff, who are concerned about losing their job may well be part of the reason for the contradictory information.
Regarding the first “transformation programme“: Ways of Working(WoW) a member of FHDC staff is quoted as saying in Report P17-11 – page 22:
we finish one transformation project, WoW and go straight into another. Why would anyone want to commit to staying at SDC (now FHDC) when they have the constant threat of restructure and change over their head.
And the second transformation – currently under way – cost £62,015.99 after FHDC brought in Ignite Consultants to find even more “efficiency savings”
Moving on swiftly, Great Yarmouth Council has found a way of cutting their housing waiting list by 95%, while boosting customer satisfaction and shrinking costs. Could something similar to Great Yarmouth’s turn around be possible here in our fantastic district? If so, it would mean sending Cllr Alan Ewart- James and relevant officers on a fact-finding mission to Great Yarmouth. Cllr Ewart-James has nothing to lose by exploring the possibility. Would he consider such an idea? We really do hope so because it could reduce those record breaking B&B costs for 17/18 – £1,164,836. And let’s not forget FHDC the second transformation; which is under way because they have a projected deficit of £6.5 million by 2020/21, so “every little will help”.
If you think he and FHDC should at least investigate this possibility to save costs, by visiting Great Yarmouth we advise you write to him and the new Head of Paid Services Dr Susan Priest (pictured above), politely of course, at:
The Shepwayvox Team.