Thanet council is slashing the use of emergency B&B accommodation and investing millions in constructing and buying new homes.
At a council meeting last night (September 6) Councillor Lesley Game, Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods, revealed the number of families in hotel accommodation had been halved from 51 on April 1 to 26 on June 30 to just 2 by August 23.
The figure as of today is one household, with no children, in emergency hotel accommodation.
Cllr Game said: “We have a particular focus on reducing the use of hotel accommodation. This type of accommodation is both the most expensive and the least suited to the needs of homeless households.”
In July 2017 payments for emergency accommodation were made to The Glenwood Hotel, the Florence Court Hotel, B & B 63 and The Connaught Hotel in Dover. One payment was also made to letting specialists Paramount Independent Property.
Emergency accommodation costs at the hotels came to £59,125. Paramount Property was paid £108,214.
In June 2018 payments were made for emergency accommodation to The Glenwood Hotel for £50,504.83 and Florence Court Hotel for £8,265, making a total for the month of £58,769.83.
In response to a question put by Labour councillor Karen Constantine over the progress made to rehouse 71 isle families who were in temporary accommodation in June Cllr Game said 14 now had permanent homes, and 12 had ‘properties identified.’
However, 31 families with children needed temporary accommodation in a 6-week period between July and August.
During that same period there was an overall 12% reduction of households in temporary accommodation down from 168 on July 9 to 147 on August 23.
Cllr Game said the council aims to reduce all temporary accommodation to 90 households by the end of the financial year, half the number in such accommodation at the end of 2017.
She added: “We shall see this ambition realised if the recent performance is maintained provided demand for the service does not increase.”
Cllr Games said there are currently 2,542 households on the social housing register, this has risen from 2,123 households in June 2017.
She added: “Demand for services is unprecedented. However, despite the pressures we have increased our success in preventing homelessness and reduced the need for temporary accommodation.
“There is more to be done and we remain committed to preventing homelessness and reducing temporary accommodation.”
Investing in homes
Cllr Game said TDC is investing £30million in 150 homes by 2020 and has made a bid to government to fund a further 35 new homes at the cost of £8.8million.
Twenty homes are due for completion by the end of the financial year and work is due to start on the construction of 49 new properties.”
The £30 million is part of TDC’ approved acquisitions programme to provide new affordable homes for rent, including new build, Margate and Ramsgate Intervention projects, empty homes refurbishment programme and acquisitions.
Cllr Constantine also raised the issue of families being moved out of area, often having to leave their children with other relatives so they can continue at Thanet schools.
Some 61 households are currently being provided temporary accommodation outside of Thanet.
Cllr Game said TDC ‘tries very hard not to split families’ and to work on personal housing plans with them.
Today Cllr Constantine said: “Too many of Thanet families are struggling with housing issues. Far too many are homeless. Every month more families find themselves in this position – through no fault of their own.
“I’m particularly concerned about families that get moved out of area due to Thanet District Council’s lack of social homes and the lack of private rented accommodation. One family in my ward has been moved to Medway. This family is now split up, living in three different places. The two older children remain in Thanet with two different sets of relatives in order that they can attend school.
“This is crazy. This family have just been denied the opportunity of bidding on a four bedroom house in Thanet that they say would’ve been completely suitable for them. I’m advising them on how to complain.
“I have another family who have been forced to move up to Medway. A mother with four youngsters. The children’s lives are heavily disrupted, in particular their education. How do you find schools and childcare in a brand new area?
“I have raised the situation with Cllr Roger Gough who hold the children’s services portfolio at KCC. He tells me that KCC don’t know how many children are affected. I’m staggered. Despite asking for information over 5 months, I still don’t have an answer.
“How are these children faring when they are moved out of area? How is the education impacted? If a child starts to drop behind at school that can have extremely far reaching negative impact. Extra support needs to be provided. As a minimum we should be at least looking at the detail and putting strategies in place to minimise the harm done to our young people.
“I’m so concerned I’ve contacted Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England. We will be working together to seek solutions and support for these families and I will also be feeding into the commissioner’s policy. “