Money is available to address homelessness crisis, say Greens
The city council could spend £8m more on affordable and emergency housing if a Green proposal is supported by other parties at a meeting tomorrow. 
Questions from the Greens over the state of council housing finances have revealed that the council has almost £31m of borrowed funds available for housing. Housing spokesperson David Gibson says that this borrowed money is being ‘sat on,’ and could help to alleviate the crisis in homelessness and rough sleeping. 
If approved, the Green proposals will see £3.5m of this budget used to purchase council-run emergency homeless accommodation, a move that Greens say will save money and create a more accountable service. Reports from last year have shown that the cost to the council of buying emergency accommodation from private landlords has increased every year since 2015, in some cases by up to £800k a year. 
Greens have also identified a further £3.5m that could be used to expand the city’s council housing supply, and are pushing the council make use of the additional budget to ensure that tenants are offered genuinely affordable social and living rents.
Cllr Gibson commented:
“The Labour Council has money at its disposal through borrowing – yet these vast sums are still unspent. Our plan will boost the housing budget so that we can do more to tackle homelessness. If other parties agree to our calls, we would boost the council’s housing budget considerably. Instead of watching the costs of purchasing emergency accommodation from private landlords increase year on year, we could provide much needed long term affordable homes and emergency accommodation for the homeless.
“Over a year ago all parties supported a Green group proposal calling for emergency accommodation services to be brought back ‘in house’ in order to save money and improve conditions – so I am hopeful they will support taking this forwards. Overall we will reverse the proposed cut to this year’s housing programme, hardly a big ask when we have the money and a housing crisis which cries out for urgent action. We could also create a budget so we can start to offer new council homes – at genuinely affordable social or living rents.
“Money is available – we need to get on and spend it, as the housing and homelessness crisis in our city requires immediate and positive action.”
Notes for Editors
 Green amendments to the Housing Revenue Account budget will be put to a vote at a meeting of Policy, Resources and Growth Committee, Thursday 14thFebruary.
Proposals from the Greens outline the use of unspent borrowing and ‘right to buy’ receipts to provide £8m extra for:
– buying a building to bring emergency homeless accommodation in house (£3.5m)
– providing a fund to enable new council housing to be provided at living and social rents (£1.05m)
-providing more money to buy flats and houses to expand council housing supply (£3.5m)
Full text of amendments available here: http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000912/M00008110/AI00070778/$Item128GrnGrpHRAbudgetamendmentincludingCFOcomments120219.docx.pdf
 Notes from Housing and New Homes Committee, 14TH November 2018:
The following question was submitted by Councillor Gibson: “As of 1st of October 2018, how much HRA borrowing had been undertaken and how much was still available underneath the borrowing cap in force at that time?”
The Chair’s response: “At 1st October 2018, the HRA had borrowed £125.502m. The borrowing cap in force at that time was £156.8m and therefore this is £31.298m below the cap. However, the council only usually borrows at the financial year-end and therefore this figure at 1st October does not reflect the borrowing that will be required for 2018/19 expenditure on new build schemes.” Council borrowing: https://www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/2018/06/12/%C2%A330.5m-for-new-council-homes-not-being-spent-despite-housing-crisis,-say-greens/
 Emergency Accommodation costs: https://www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/2018/07/12/millions-of-pounds-going-to-private-landlords-as-cost-of-emergency-accommodation-skyrockets/