Ilford, United Kingdom
VIJAY SHAH via HARRIET CLUGSTON and IMOGEN BRADDICK/Ilford Recorder
According to the latest figures, Redbridge Council, which governs the east Greater London towns of Redbridge and Ilford, spends more than GBP £750,000 (USD $970,511) per week of its expenditure on temporarily rehoming homeless families and individuals, revealed local newspaper the Ilford Recorder today in a growing symptom of Britain’s housing crisis and high living costs.
Figures published by the U.K. government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show that in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, Redbridge’s council forked out around GBP £39.5 million (USD $51.1 million) on temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs for families evicted by landlords, and people who lose their homes to fires. This was calculated at around £759,100 per week. This was an increase of ten per cent from 2017-2018, with £3.7 million more spent.
Most of the monies were allocated as housing benefit and was largely paid to private landlords. Under the British welfare system, people who are on welfare programmes have their rent paid on their behalf directly to the landlord or housing association homing them. Landlords received £17.8 million from the council this year. Another £18.9 million was spent on emergency accommodation that was paid for on a per-night basis.
Commenting on the council figures from the ministry, Farah Hussain, Redbridge Council’s cabinet member for housing and homelessness, said: “Rising temporary accommodation costs, along with high rent levels, benefit changes and historically low levels of investment in social housing in Redbridge, means the council is looking at various ways to increase the level of affordable housing in the borough and reduce long waits for social housing.
‘This includes a rolling programme to purchase 300 homes over the next few years and a joint project with other London boroughs to secure accommodation for people in need.’
‘The council is also directly delivering 600 council houses for local families.’
‘This housebuilding programme will account for a large part of the council’s strategy to build 1,000 affordable by 2022 and means it will become the largest provider of new social homes in the borough.’
‘This new generation of council houses will provide genuinely affordable permanent accommodation for families on our waiting list, who would otherwise find themselves in temporary accommodation.”
This is a trend that is not only affecting Redbridge and London but councils across the country, as a growing population and funding cutbacks by central government force councils to increasingly turn to the private housing sector to help those in the greatest housing need. In England, councils spent a combined near to £1.1 billion figure in 2018-2019.
Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said the figures were a shocking but “entirely preventable consequence” of the country’s housing emergency.
She said: “If consecutive governments had built the genuinely affordable social homes that are needed, fewer people would be homeless, and we would not be wasting vast sums on unsuitable temporary accommodation.
“What’s even more shameful is that so much of this public money is lining the pockets of unscrupulous private landlords, who can charge desperate councils extortionate rates for grim B&Bs, because there’s nowhere else for families to go.”
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“Revealed: Council spends more than £750,000 every week on temporary housing for homeless Redbridge families” – Harriet Clugston & Imogen Braddick, Ilford Recorder/Archant Community Media Ltd. (21 November 2019) https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/redbridge-council-temporary-housing-spending-1-6385893