South Holland leader calls for help with homelessness bill

HOMELESSNESS CRUNCH: South Holland District Council leader Coun Gary Porter (left) outside 10 Downing Street with South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes (right).  Photo supplied.
HOMELESSNESS CRUNCH: South Holland District Council leader Coun Gary Porter (left) outside 10 Downing Street with South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes (right). Photo supplied.
  • Housing shortage forces councils to spend £2 million a day on temporary accommodation, claims LGA
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The leader of South Holland District Council has challenged the Government to cut a ‘new deal’ and bring down the nation’s £2 million homelessness bill.

Coun Gary Porter, also chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) warned that “huge financial pressures” were forcing councils to choose between housing the homeless and building affordable homes.

The warning came before yesterday’s Budget in which Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced an extra £2 billion for councils to spend on adult social care over the next three years.

Coun Porter said: “Homelessness is spreading across all areas of the country and funding pressures, combined with a lack of affordable housing and private sector rents rising above household incomes, will increase it. Together, it is leaving many councils struggling to find suitable accommodation for those in need, particularly those who are young, vulnerable or with families.

“With councils continuing to face huge financial pressures, it is unsustainable for them to have to spend £2 million a day in housing vulnerable people at the sharp end of our housing crisis.

“Councils would much rather invest this scarce resource in building new affordable homes and preventing homelessness happening in the first place.”

With councils continuing to face huge financial pressures, it is unsustainable for them to have to spend £2 million a day in housing vulnerable people at the sharp end of our housing crisis

Coun Gary Porter, Leader of South Holland District Council and Chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA)

Figures from the district council showed that it spent nearly £5,700 on temporary accommodation for the homeless in 2016/17, more than 60 per cent less than a year earlier when the bill was just over £15,000.

South Holland has nearly 30 properties which the council uses to temporarily accommodate the homeless, with any extra costs coming when those properties are full.

Coun Porter said: “Communities across the country need a new deal from the Chancellor that gives councils the ability to borrow and invest in housing.

“Also, to keep 100 per cent of the receipts from any homes they sell to replace them and reinvest in building more of the genuinely affordable home they desperately need.”