Ashfield council's spend on homeless accommodation rockets by 4,700 per cent

Ashfield District Council spent £62,495 last year on temporary accommodation for homeless residents.

The amount had risen dramatically, as only £1,311 was spent in 2017, and £547 in 2016 - a rise of 4,766 per cent.

Ashfield District Council spent 62,495 last year on temporary accommodation for homeless residents.

Ashfield District Council spent 62,495 last year on temporary accommodation for homeless residents.

However, council bosses say this rise is due to a government act that came into force in 2017, which makes housing homeless residents the responsibility of the local authority.

These new regulations mean the council has a duty to provide temporary accommodation for a longer period of time.

A council spokesman said this was behind the higher cost, rather than an increase of people losing their homes.

The spokesman said: "The number of households being accommodated has broadly stayed the same but the length of time each household has been accommodated for has increased significantly.

"The Council is not unique, our experience has been mirrored by other local authorities up and down the country.

"The increase in expenditure from April 2018 coincides with the implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

"The Act placed new duties and responsibilities on the Council to assist those residents who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

"The council has been very successful in preventing homelessness.

"In the six months, from April to September 2018 we prevented 115 households from losing their home. Unfortunately it isn’t always possible to keep people in their home and in these circumstances the Council often has a duty to provide temporary accommodation.

"The council has responded to the new regulations by increasing the number of properties available for use as temporary accommodation.

"This action, alongside the focus on preventing homelessness and been successful and bed and breakfast accommodation is now used infrequently, normally in exceptional circumstances.

Councillor John Wilmott, cabinet member for housing, said: "As an authority we have made significant strides over the past 12 months to meet the new challenges associated with requirements of the Act. We have doubled the number of temporary units in our stock from 15 to 30; reducing the need for bed and breakfast type accommodation.

"We are now very well placed as an authority to only require the use of this type of accommodation in emergency situations only. These crucial steps forward will allow us to helps those who find themselves in difficult situations when they need support most."

Gloria De Piero, Ashfield's MP said government cuts and a rise in homelessness means local councils now having to foot the bill.

She said: "Since 2010, the number of people sleeping rough on the streets nationwide has more than doubled and funding to homeless services was cut by 45 per cent between 2010 and 2015.

“Whereas once homelessness was a problem only seen on the streets of our biggest cities, it is now increasingly affecting areas like Ashfield.

“There is a clear correlation between the cuts the Tories have inflicted and the rise in homelessness and it means that local councils are having to foot the bill to help the homeless.

“The government has turned its back on the most vulnerable in our society and it is a disgrace.”

Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said: “Welfare cuts, rising rents and a huge shortfall of social homes mean councils are having to spend huge sums of money on temporary accommodation for rising numbers of desperate homeless families. Not only is temporary accommodation like hostels and B&Bs incredibly expensive for councils, it’s often entirely unsuitable for families and their children.

  “It makes no sense that so many people are enduring the trauma of homelessness at huge expense to the public purse when we could be tackling the root of the problem: our country needs more affordable social housing. That’s why we’re calling for 3.1 million new social homes over the next 20 years.

“Anyone struggling with bad housing or homelessness can get help from Shelter’s free helpline, online, or via local face-to-face services. Visit england.shelter.org.uk/get_help or call 0808 800 4444.”