In real life, poverty and dignity are not good bedfellows. Making good and clean floors are all well and good. But modern day virtues are easier to hold when you rise every morning from a safe and warm bed in a place you can call home.
There has always been households who find it difficult obtaining accommodation in our district. This is regardless of the fact of whether they are in work or not. These households sometimes need help and for that they turn to our Council, who have a legal duty under The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 to ‘help to secure’ accommodation for all applicants who are eligible for assistance and threatened with homelessness or homeless.
The households the Council do become responsible for via the above legislation and s206 & s208 of the Housing Act 1996; applies to local housing authorities such as ours. Also KCC become involved under s17 of the Children Act 1989 if children are involved.
According to Folkestone & Hythe District Council 127 households have been placed in temporary accommodation out of our area since Sept 2019, as suitable accomodation could not be found for them in our district.
In Sept 2019, we made the world aware that 242 households had been moved out of the district between April 2018 and Sept 2019. In total 369 households have been moved out of our district in the last five financial years. This is an average of 74 households being moved out of our district each year. This would mean one household every five days for the last five years has been moved out of district.
Some of the 127 households moved into temporary accommodation out of area since Sept 2019, are more than an hour away from our district. They have been moved to the following locations.
We cannot quantify the trauma of these experiences of being uprooted from familiar surrounds and placed in Eastbourne for example; which is 55 miles away and takes nearly two hours to get to by car along the A259, according to Google.
Most if not all the children who have been moved out of the Folkestone & Hythe District will have been forced to move schools as a result of living in temporary households elsewhere. Again another traumatic experience for them.
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. The must also follow the current homelessness_Code of_Guidance; which runs to 210 pages.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council in a response to the costs for moving people out of district into temporary accommodation said:
The Council does not assist with removals of goods for customers placed in out of area accommodation.The Council does provide Rail Travel Warrants to customers for various reasons if they have absolutely no other means of transport. Warrants are issued for other reasons in addition to helping households access out of area temporary accommodation placements. The overall spend on Rail Travel Warrants is monitored, however, the spend on Rail Travel Warrants specifically to assist households access out of area temporary accommodation placements is not broken down and therefore we are unable to provide this information.
But the Council do not just place households into temporary accommodation out of area, they also place people into permanent accommodation out of area as well.
Since Sept 2019, the following numbers of households have been placed into permanent accomodation out of area
As the number of individuals in some years is very low (fewer than or equal to five) further information cannot be disclosed as the individuals involved could potentially be identified, especially if combined with other data that is, or may become, available, and this would constitute a breach of the Data Protection Act 2018.
It is known though that these households have been placed into permanent accommodation in the following districts:
Dover, Ashford, Tunbridge Wells
Moving people out of area comes at a cost to the Council and since Sept 2019, it has cost £86,442, to move these households into permanent accommodation elsewhere.
Many if not all these households have become migrants due to the rise in rents in our local district and a lack of affordable housing being built.
We’d ask the Council what they have spent the s106 money on they receive from developers. Given they have allowed a developer to escape payment of his s106 and not build his promised affordable housing in the poorest area in Folkestone, indicates, that more needs to be done by our newly elected Cllrs to ensure more affordable and social housing is built.
Also what forces people out of our district is other Local Authorities such as London Boroughs sending people into our district. Since April 2019, 387 households have been moved into our district by other Local Authorities.
As households move in from out of area, this displaces others. This has been an ongoing issue since 2010, in our district, and from then onwards the situation of households placed into temporary or permanent accommodation started as a trickle and has now become a steady constant stream, and others moving in has become the same.
The simple answer to this is, build more affordable and social housing. But with a cash strapped council who has a £16.5m deficit and £16m pounds worth of debt to repay in the next four years, building more affordable or social housing is more of an ambition than a reality.
Otterpool Park, Bigginswood, Highview nor Ship Street will save this council, as little to none of the affordable or social housing will be completed in time for the next election.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Voxatiousness