Agenda item

Agenda item

Homelessness and Temporary Accommodation Update

Head of Planning, Housing and Health to report.



The Head of Planning, Housing and Health provided the Committee with an update on Homelessness and Temporary Accommodation.


The Head of Planning, Housing and Health advised that:


·       In recent years there had been approximately 1900 requests made to the service. This was 1900 households, not individuals. This figure comprised of 80% family units, and 20% single-person households.

·       The cause of homelessness was complex and was either attributable to:

o   Structural issues (affordability/availability of supply of housing)

o   Social reasons e.g. breakdown of families; divorce/domestic violence

o   Or a combination of both.

o   There had been an increase of cases where previously two family units were sharing a household (ie two generations of a family) but now, due to increased demands on income and the costs of maintaining them, it was now found that one could not maintain/financially support the other.

·       Initial operating model assumptions which underpinned the 2023/24 budget estimate were that there would be 60 households in temporary accommodation per night, with a net service cost of £0.276m. Now the most probable scenario for 2023/24 was that this figure could increase to 70 households, creating a forecast additional increased net cost of £0.194m.

·       The number of tenancies for 2021/22 were 310, 2022/23 was 409, and 2023/34 (to date) was 195.  In comparison with the number of NDC-owned stock 2021/22 of 34 (11% of those total tenancies), 2022/23 of 104 (25%), and 2023/34 (to date) of 61 (31%). The number of tenancies in NDC owned stock had increased to over 30% of the provision. Owned-stock tenancies were the most cost-effective way to cover the TA costs. Full Council had agreed on further capital investment to procure more properties for TA.

·       Recommended strategy moving forward was to maximise the benefit/cost-effectiveness of the current commissioned services by:

o   Bringing forward new supply ASAP, and

o   Utilising the additional Homelessness Prevention Grant allocation for 2023/24:

§  Base award £0.420m against estimate of £0.396m

§  An additional in year grant amounted to £0.169m

o   The anticipated outcome would be that all the Temporary accommodation requirements were met, and there would be no requirement to use earmarked homelessness reserves.

·       Headlines from a private housing market report:

o   Interest rates were not expected to start decreasing until Q2 2024.  The full effects of the interest rate hikes would impact the economy, as mortgagees came off historically low fixed rate mortgages.

o   Unemployment had started to rise and was forecast to rise further in 2024.

o   A sharp drop over the last year in mortgage approvals and property transactions continued the downwards trend since summer 2022.  Additionally, residential mortgage arrears had hit a seven-year high.

o   Housing associations anticipated that its house building would fall by around 30%, though this was likely to be partially offset as house builders moved into affordable housing.  Housing associations were prioritising management on existing stock; basic living conditions, building safety and decarbonisation.

  • 70 units were require to be accessible at any one time, therefore, procurement was requirement of up to 75 units to compensate for voids, and reduce the risk of needing to secure B&B accommodation, which was cost prohibitive if the Council was to control costs.
  • Wider resources which had been made available to NDC included:
    • £0.105m in recognition of work surrounding the contingency                   hotel in Ilfracombe
    • £0.527m (22/23), £0.906m (anticipated 23/24) – Homes for Ukraine.
    • £0.550m (23/24), £0.330m (24/25) and

o   £0.242m (25/26) projected, resettlement of Afghanistan citizens in Chivenor.

  • Actions to help mitigate future risk and support to homeless households included:        
    • the engagement of an additional Homelessness Prevention Officer (to 31st March, 2024, in the first instance).
    • Test and report back on the use of rental top ups to landlords to secure accommodation (homelessness prevention or discharge of main duty).

NDC securing a 12 month tenancy agreement for the homelessness applicant, by paying the assessed difference between the rent level which is affordable to the person and the market rent.


In response to questions from the Committee, the Head of Planning, Housing and Health confirmed:


·       There were a small number of street-homeless. These were primarily from the local community- not elsewhere in the country. There was a multi-agency team currently involved in helping them.

·       17 people, previously sleeping rough, were now in supported accommodation.


Councillor Jones noted that the officers had provided exceptional assistance when called upon to provide support for an individual who had been facing potential homelessness, who had approached the Councillor for help.


In response to a question from the Committee, the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive advised that the LA was currently utilising some provision within camp sites/holiday accommodation but confirmed that purchasing its own properties would be the most cost-effective solution for the LA.


In response to a question from the Committee regarding the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the Head of Planning, Housing and Health confirmed that it was not a long-term, sustainable solution, to expect households to live within other (host) households.


The Chief Executive advised that the situation around homelessness was a ‘ticking time-bomb’ and that some Local Authorities were spending up to a third of their budgets on temporary accommodation. Although there were refugee settlement schemes in place there were reduced numbers of properties available. He stated there were many issues coming together to put further strain on the service and if demand continued to rise it would be difficult to purchase the number of properties required to cover it, and that the housing crisis could not be underplayed.


RESOLVED that the update on Homelessness and Temporary Accommodation be noted.