12 July 2018
Shocking increase in cost of short-term accommodation prompts renewed calls for Council to bring service ‘in-house‘.
Huge increases in the costs of temporary accommodation have prompted renewed calls from the Greens for the Council to bring this service in-house.
The response to a question from Green housing spokesperson David Gibson revealed that the net cost of privately-run temporary accommodation to the council has increased every year since 2014/15. Over £2.77m was spent last year – an increase of £829k on the previous year. Net losses to the Council have increased by as much as 500% across the past four years. 
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. 
A set of proposals put forward by the Greens in December 2017 called for an investigation into the savings that could be achieved through Council ownership of short-term accommodation. Despite being backed by all parties, the Labour Council has yet to deliver a report on the matter. 
With costs to the Council escalating, Greens are calling for urgent action and have criticised the Labour Council for failing to back Green budget proposals that would have made funds available to buy suitable accommodation. 
Green Councillor David Gibson commented:
“It is shocking that privately provided short-term emergency accommodation costs £2.77m – an increase of over £800,000 on the previous year. Instead of publicly subsidised rents going to private landlords, it’s a no brainer that the Council should provide its own emergency and temporary accommodation, which could be done at a much lower cost to the public purse.
“With resources tight, we are calling for our proposals to use cheap borrowing to buy buildings to be properly explored. We called for this to be investigated back in December. Now the costs are escalating, it is more urgent than ever and the Labour Council needs to get a move on and look at the options for Council-run short-term accommodation. Other Councils that have started doing this have already reported huge savings – but crucially also a better service.” 
Greens have argued that the Council could also provide a better service to homeless people through delivering its own emergency accommodation. Private landlords are currently under no obligation to provide support services to vulnerable tenants in emergency accommodation.