Council spends £549k on temporary housing

MORE than 700 homeless applications have been received by Crawley Borough Council during the last two years because people are struggling to cope with the economic climate.

Between January 2010 and December 2011 the authority took 730 homeless applications: 304 in 2010 and 426 in 2011. As a result the council had to spend £549,144 to put people in temporary accommodation.

This is in comparison to 2009 where 234 households declared themselves homeless.

The borough council said the increased level of homelessness was down to a ‘multi-faceted issue with the underlying reason being the prolonged and ongoing difficult economic climate and its impact on households’.

The figures revealed as part of a Freedom of Information request, state that in 2010 to 2011 the council spent £243,622 on finding temporary housing for people without a roof over their heads.

This figure rose to £305,522 between 2011 and 2012.

Cllr Richard Burrett (Con, Pound Hill North), portfolio holder for housing, said: “The situation has clearly got worse since that time (2009). The worsening of the homelessness situation is not just confined to Crawley, and mirrors what has also been happening across West Sussex and the country as a whole.

“In terms of the supply of council housing, it is important to recognise that there are two key issues in relation to social housing in Crawley.

“Firstly, the demand for social housing clearly exceeds the supply by quite a long way, but secondly we also have a high level of aspiration for social rented housing locally, which doesn’t only come from those people who are actually accepted as homeless, but which also includes many people on the waiting list.

“In meeting the housing need that we face it is important that we focus on making the best use of the available housing stock, and enabling the best possible access to the full range of housing that exists in the town, not just social rented housing.

“A key objective for the council is boosting the supply of all housing, not just affordable housing, and we are working with a range of different organisations and agencies to try to achieve this.”

At a council meeting in March councillorssaid there was a ‘desperate’ need for homes in Crawley with 3000 people on the council’s waiting list.

Cllr Bob Lanzer, leader of the borough council (Con) said: “We do need more social housing and we have two strategic schemes coming forward. Kilnwood Vale, west of Bewbush, will deliver up to 375 affordable homes.

“Up to 760 affordable homes will come from the North-East Sector. This is in addition to smaller developments already in the pipeline.”

Crawley Labour Group leader Cllr Peter Lamb, said more should be done to tackle the issue of homelessness.

“It’s a national disgrace that in 21st century Britain we can’t house our people.

He added: “Tackling homelessness should be a priority for the Government, unfortunately their reforms to housing and council tax policy look certain to make the problem worse.”

A council spokesman said it had several initiatives in place to try and prevent households from becoming homeless.