Council’s £150,000 bill to accommodate those in need of shelter

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Calderdale Council has spent more than £150,000 paying for homeless people to stay in temporary accommodation since 2015.

The council has spent £163,859.88 on bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless people.

Holly Lynch, MP.

Holly Lynch, MP.

The figure was £17,632.97 in 2014-15, £17,235.03 in 2015-16, £76,794.46 in 2016-17, £33,526.92 in 2017-18 and £18,670.50 from 2018-19 to date.

There are five bed and breakfast establishments that the council uses as they have a statutory duty to find somewhere for people to stay. However, they cannot disclose the location or address of the accommodations.

The council confirmed that the prices range from £25 per night to over £100 per night per person.

However, the council stressed that most hotels charge approximately £57.60 per adult per night and £28 per child, including breakfast.

The council also said they do not own any temporary accommodation.

They have five households in temporary accommodation - seven adults and eight children - with no households being in accommodation for more than three months.

Polly Neate, CEO at Shelter, said: “Across the country high rents, welfare cuts and the drought of affordable homes are tipping too many people into homelessness, and sadly, Yorkshire is no exception.

“As a result, councils are being massively stretched as more and more people turn to them for help. Every day at Shelter we speak to families forced to live in a one room of a cramped emergency B&B, often for weeks or months on end, as councils’ battle to find them a better place to go.

“To put a stop to this, the government must make sure housing benefit covers the actual cost of renting, and ultimately tackle the root of the crisis by coming up with a bold new plan for social housing that delivers genuinely affordable homes.”

Halifax MP Holly Lynch said: “I slept out with Calderdale Smartmove last November and it’s miserable. It’s heart-breaking that so many families have had to seek emergency help, and these figures highlight how homelessness is much more widespread than simply rough sleepers, as many people are forced to rely on temporary accommodation.

“Each individual who reaches this crisis point has their own story but recurring challenges have been around a lack of mental health provision and the roll out of universal credit with its mandatory six week gap in payments.

“Government policies, particularly around Universal Credit, have made it extremely difficult for people to get back on their feet. Conditions such as requiring an address to access help mean that people cannot secure the income needed to get a rented property.

“I’m glad that Calderdale Council prioritised helping the homeless in their latest budget and alongside local charities, are committed to assisting those who need help. We have to move towards more sustainable solutions rather than responding once a person is in a crisis, but that is getting harder under this Government.”

Chris Walker, chief executive of Smartmove, said: “These figures suggest that worrying numbers of people are finding themselves in a housing crisis with Calderdale Council increasingly under pressure to find people immediate, but temporary accommodation.

“It demonstrates why the role of charities like Calderdale Smartmove are so essential in seeking to avoid these types of crisis situations, and to rebuild lives by supporting people into more long-term and secure accommodation.”

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Housing and Environment, Coun Daniel Sutherland, said: “Unfortunately, homelessness is on the increase nationally and signs are that this trend is reflected in Calderdale. Reducing homelessness and rough sleeping is a priority for the Council and we do our best to engage with anyone who is at risk of homelessness and support those who are sleeping rough.

“Bed and breakfast placements are used if we’re unable to find temporary accommodation for those who find themselves homeless. The Council doesn’t own any temporary accommodation, but we are working with Together Housing to secure more sites to reduce the use of bed and breakfasts.

“A lot of the bed and breakfast placements were over the winter period, which was particularly cold this year. We ensure that temporary accommodation is offered to anyone sleeping rough if the temperature is forecast to reach zero degrees or below.

“Bed and breakfast accommodation was also used during the flooding, for those who were unable to immediately return to their homes.

“We work hard to prevent homelessness wherever possible. In the last year almost 400 people have been supported by the Council to resolve broader issues which can lead to homelessness. This could be issues with landlords, debt or support to assist victims of domestic violence.

“If you believe you are at risk of losing your home visit Halifax Customer First for free, confidential advice for anyone who has housing problems, is homeless or threatened with homelessness.”