Crawley homeless families sent to Hove and Eastbourne

Louth to host it's first Triathlon event.
Louth to host it's first Triathlon event.

Crawley Borough Council spent more than £58,000 on housing the town’s homeless in June – including placing two families in Hove and two others in Eastbourne.

The figures, which were published this month, showed there were 222 Crawley households in temporary accommodation as of June 30, 157 of which contained children and/or a pregnant woman.

Of those, seven have been placed in accommodation outside the borough – two in Horley, one in Felbridge, two in Hove and two in Eastbourne.

June’s housing bill – which totalled £58,483.47 – covered 53 of the families.

A council spokesman said: “Unfortunately we’re not always able to provide temporary accommodation in Crawley as there is a lack of self-contained options available for the council to use in an emergency to meet the legal requirement for households containing children or a pregnancy.

“We try to accommodate homeless households as close to the town as possible but if these placements are full, we are forced to look further afield and will bring them back into the borough as soon as an alternative becomes available.

“We are working with our public and private sector partners to establish a flexible portfolio of temporary accommodation which is able to respond to fluctuating demands and remain cost effective for those households who have become homeless or are threatened with homelessness.”

The homelessness spending figures were part of the council’s regular declaration of payments over £500 it has made to external bodies.

In June, this also included £8,050 which was spent on staff workshops and a staff survey; legal fees totalling £372.687.14; and £42.145.83 for agency staff.

Regarding the payments to Direction Law, which were listed as legal fees, a council spokesman said the money was actually spent on buying two properties which were in danger of being repossessed.

The purchase, made under the Mortgage Rescue Scheme, allowed the council to increase its housing stock while preventing the occupants from becoming homeless.

The spokesman said: “We’ll get around 50 per cent of the costs back in about a month’s time as it’s part-funded by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).”

The HCA is the national housing and regeneration agency for England which works with local authorities to draw up investment plans.

The council spokesman continued: “Over the past year we have purchased 11 properties in this way, preventing 11 families from becoming homeless.

“This has cost £2.2million but we have received more than 50 per cent of this back from the HCA, with CBC’s outlay about £1million.”

The money for the staff workshops and survey included £2,500 for a series of workshops to help identify ways to improve customer service.

Some £5,500 covered half the cost of a series of discussion groups, one-to-one discussions and drop-in sessions involving 75 staff as part of the council’s biennial staff survey.

As for the £42.145.83 spent on agency staff, this money included two people covering vacant posts in waste and recycling and administration, a temporary manager and temporary nursery nurse for the Sunrise Nursery, and one temporary role covering the process of homeless applications.

A council spokesman said: “The payments are for agency workers across the council.

“The staffing is in a variety of locations for different work or activities covering for absences, short-term appointments or where the council does not have the appropriate skills for project work.”