More than 240 households have been sent away from the Folkestone & Hythe District and placed into temporary accommodation elsewhere in the last thirty months, as there was no appropriate accommodation in the district. One hundred and twenty six households were sent away in 2017, 72 households in 2018 and 43 households so far in 2019. Many of these households have children.
But it is not just households sent away from our district to be housed in temporary accommodation elsewhere that is important. Other Boroughs place homeless households into temporary accommodation in our district.
Since the time our council has been collecting the data – June 2018 – forty six households have been placed into our district by seven other councils. This figure though will be higher as not all Local Authorities notify that they are placing households into temporary accommodation in our district, plus our council only began collecting data from June 2018.
Losing your home is a deeply traumatic event and then being offered accommodation miles away from your community, your work, your children’s school and your care responsibilities compounds all that trauma, whichever direction you are going.
Former district Cllr Mary Lawes (pictured), frequently asked former Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Alan Ewart James about the numbers of households being placed into our district, and sent away from our district. All to often she was told the council never recorded these figures and that other authorities didn’t always notify the council. Her persistence in wanting to know the figures paid off and the council began collecting this data because of her.
In an FoI response by F&HDC, sixty one individuals, including children, numbering forty six households have been placed into temporary accommodation in our district by other local authorities. The number will be much higher as the council only started recording this data as of June 2018, as you can see from the chart below.
85 households Ashford District,
10 Households Chatham area,
125 households Dover District,
14 households Gillingham area,
1 household Gravesend area,
7 households Maidstone District,
1 household Rainham area,
1 Household Sheerness area
2 households Sittingbourne area,
In total 242 households have been sent away from our area and placed into temporary accommodation elsewhere. We cannot quantify the trauma of these experiences
A landmark court judgement last year emphasised that while out-of-area placements are not in themselves unlawful, councils have a legal duty to ensure the relocation is suitable and appropriate for the family’s circumstances, taking into account any potential disruption to education, medical needs, caring responsibilities and employment.
What all the data/information demonstrates is that we need to build more council homes and ensure more truly affordable rents are charged by landlords.
Homes which cost three quarters of a million are needed for a few, but many need council homes if this issue is to be resolved. However, it is not as simple as saying we need more homes. To build homes cost money. Our council would have to identify land, purchase it and build on it. This would come at a cost to council tax payers, you. The questions that need posing are:
Would you be prepared to have your council tax raised beyond the threshold of 3% so that our council could build more council homes, given the fact that we have the highest council tax in Kent?
Would you be prepared for our council to borrow the money from the public works loan board and repay the loan over 30 years?
Council homes were good enough for Cllr David Monk and Cllr David Godfrey, both who grew up in one. Will they consent to building more than the currently agreed 300 council homes, because it is clear from the facts above we desperately need them. And are you the residents of the district prepared to foot the bill through higher council tax? Now there’s something to chew on.
The Shepwayvox Team
Not owned by Hedgefunds or Barons