Mon, 11 Nov 2019
NO West Berkshire families needing temporary accommodation are currently in bed and breakfasts, West Berkshire Council has said.
The news follows Government figures which showed that eight households had been put up in B&Bs – six with children – between January and March this year.
Earlier this year a senior councillor said that the local authority was looking to invest in more local accommodation rather than “shipping people out to Slough to bed and breakfasts”.
Opponents have said that the council should invest in more social housing rather than commercial property.
The statistics make up a larger picture on temporary accommodation, which showed that 63 households were staying in short-term homes. Fifty-three of those households had a total of 86 children.
Eight families were put up in B&Bs and of the six with children, four had been in a B&B for more than six weeks.
Of the remaining households, 41 were in local authority or housing association stock, six were in hostels and four were in nightly-paid, privately-managed accommodation.
Between April and June 2018, 51 families were in temporary accommodation. This dropped to 50 between July and September but then rose to 57 between October and December.
Shadow executive member for housing Alan Macro (Lib Dem, Theale) said: “It is welcome that there are currently no homeless families being accommodated by the council in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. I just hope they can maintain that as the number of families accommodated in B&Bs doubled last year.”
Mr Macro said that as B&B accommodation used by the council was often in Slough, children were being placed up to 50 miles away from their schools.
“What is worse is that, according to the latest government figures, four homeless families with children have been in B&Bs for over six weeks.
“That means that their lives have been disrupted for at least that length of time,” he said.
“The council have said that they are buying properties to temporarily accommodate homeless families, but there seems to have been little progress on this.
“The council need to put more effort into finding and buying this accommodation so that homeless families can be housed in a civilised way until permanent housing can be found for them.
“The council should also be investing in housing, rather than office blocks and petrol stations.”
Green councillor Steve Masters (Speen) has been calling for the council to invest in social housing.
He said: “If it’s the case that no-one is in bed and breakfast, that is welcome news, but nonetheless illustrates the fragility of the housing market locally. The lack of adequate social housing is repeatedly coming home to roost.
“Until the Government and this Conservative administration at West Berkshire invest in social housing we will be in this cycle where the vulnerable pay the price time and time again.”
Executive member for planning and economic development Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley and Cold Ash) said earlier this year that the council was looking to invest in more temporary accommodation, but had not been able to find anything suitable.
West Berkshire Council spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton said: “As a result of the council’s sustained efforts, purchase of temporary accommodation and determination to further reduce and prevent the use of bed and breakfast accommodation, we are now in a position to report the number of households occupying this type of accommodation has been reduced to zero.
“The council is taking a pragmatic approach to tackling the issue of delivering the right type of temporary accommodation. Continued efforts to source suitable temporary accommodation have, so far, proved successful.”
The council is embarking on a joint-venture with Sovereign Housing to provide land for affordable housing. It said work on the project was nearing completion.