Firms make hundreds of thousands out of ‘by the night’ flats for Folkestone & Hythe homeless

Connor McConville

Folkestone & Hythe District Council has paid hundreds of thousands of pound between April 2018 and May 2019 to companies who provided them with ” self-contained nightly lets” to house the homeless, or those threatened with homelessness.

Cllr Connor McConville (Lab) (pictured) leader of the Labour Group at Folkestone & Hythe District Council will ask a Question at full council later today, Wednesday 26th June. It is his first question. The question is as follows:

From Councillor McConville to Councillor Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Housing, Transport and special projects:

  • An item in Report C/19/01 states, Homelessness- The increase in income relates to the recovery of income relating to self-contained nightly lets, which produces a higher rate of contributions than the bed and breakfast costs. What are these self-contained nightly lets and where may I see a breakdown of the costs?

Well, he could look no further than the Payment To Suppliers which F&HDC publish every month. He would discover the Council have paid £320,000 to two suppliers, as can be seen in the chart below. However, what the chart below does not tell you is the number of families, mums, dads, children, etc  – these costs cover each month. It might be a sensible supplementary for Cllr Connor McConville.

The number of people being housed in Self Contained Nightly Lets has grown by 500% since 2009, with English councils currently paying by the night for a quarter of the 78,930 families in temporary housing.

 

The Homelessness_code_of_guidance for Local Authorities states at Para 16.31

  • Some housing authorities access the private market to secure self-contained accommodation (sometimes referred to as ‘annexe’ accommodation) for households, which is typically paid for on a nightly basis and typically involves family members sharing a large room with one another. This type of accommodation is unlikely to be suitable for families on anything but a short-term basis.

Let’s just hope and pray that’s not the case here in our district. The Overview & Scrutiny Committee ought to go on a site visit to look at this type of accommodation and see for themselves if the accommodation provided is suitable.

At Para 3.7 of the Parliamentary Briefing Paper Number 02110, 19 March 2019 Households in temporary accommodation (England), it states:

  • 3.7 Funding temporary accommodation Self-contained units meet households’ need for space and privacy but rent levels for this type of accommodation are generally high as they usually incorporate a market rent plus an allowance for voids, bad debts and management charges.

So are the self contained nightly let value for money? We cannot say. Hence the reason why we call upon the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to do site visits to a number of randomly chosen addresses used across the district.

Letting agents and landlords such as Paramount Independent Property Services Llp based in Rochester and Uk Room (London) Limited based in London who provide Self Contained Nightly Lets to F&HDC have moved into this lucrative market because they can make extra money on each home in their portfolio let on a nightly basis, compared to a longer-term lease arrangement. They have done nothing wrong we stress.

So not only do we call upon Cllr McConville to ask for the number of persons housed in these self-contained nightly lets, we ask him to raise a motion to call upon the Overview & Scrutiny Committee to undertake site visits to some of the addresses. That way they and the taxpayer could discover if we are being charged too much, and if the accommodation is suitable.

Finally, Cllr McConville also might raise the issue of building more Council homes, especially given the Council have £51 million in their usable reserves. Even if the Council were to use just £10 million this would go some way to alleviate the use of self-contained nightly lets.

The Shepwayvox Team

Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful

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Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

1 Comment on Firms make hundreds of thousands out of ‘by the night’ flats for Folkestone & Hythe homeless

  1. Perhaps we could also ask them if they would like to spend the night in such accommodation with or without their families.

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