21 February 2018
The council can bring costly emergency accommodation services ‘in-house’ and reduce rough sleeping, say Greens.
The Green Group of Councillors have revealed budget proposals that fund solutions to the homelessness crisis gripping the city.
Greens are calling on the council to use funding found by their budget proposals to purchase emergency accommodation for people at risk of rough sleeping, an issue currently costing the council up to £4.1m each year in payments to private landlords.
Green amendments in this year’s budget take action to prevent homelessness, provide adequate emergency accommodation, increase Council resources for housing and support for vulnerable people. With costs of such accommodation continuing to rise, Greens want to see public money used to provide services to those at risk of rough sleeping rather than given to private companies.
Proposals also include extra funding to boost the council’s delivery of Housing First, a scheme proven to reduce rough sleeping amongst people who are repeatedly homeless. With the cost of managing rough sleeping estimated to amount to up to £26,000 per year, studies show that support provided to people through ‘Housing First’ can be up to five times more effective than other approaches.
Greens have challenged the Labour Council’s budget plans for failing to make the most use of resources it has available to expand the supply of housing, as rough sleeping continues to rise and more than 17,000 people are on the waiting lists for council homes.
Councillor David Gibson, Green housing spokesperson, commented:
“Too many people in our city are battling rising housing costs, poor quality homes and the risk of homelessness. As Conservative cuts and punitive welfare benefit changes show no sign of abating, housing is an issue the Council quite literally cannot afford to ignore. Currently millions of pounds are spent on paying private landlords to provide emergency accommodation. Previously all parties backed our call to bring this service in-house, a no brainer, as any rental income could be used to provide more support for homeless households at a time of crisis.
“On top of this, Greens have identified a budget to support ‘Housing First,’ an approach already proven to end the cycle of rough sleeping for people who find themselves repeatedly homeless. Under the scheme other costs to the police and health services are avoided, making it cost effective too. We are also putting resources into reducing cuts to council estate budgets and into providing Wi-Fi for elderly tenants at risk of digital exclusion.
“If supported, these proposals will have a genuine impact on the housing crisis gripping our city and save money for the future. With rough sleeping having more than doubled under the Labour Council’s watch in the last two years, Greens want to see serious action taken on housing. Our amendments provide a budget to make this a reality.”
Greens will be the only party to put forward several amendments to the Council’s budget this year. Councillors vote on the city’s budget at a meeting tomorrow, Thursday 22ndFebruary.
 Recent reports from the council’s housing statistical bulletin (quarter 3) show there were 1,666 households in temporary accommodation as of 31st December last year, with 3% placed in costly bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation.