03:55PM, Friday 12 January 2018
Moving homeless people to cheaper parts of the country is being considered Slough Borough Council (SBC), in the face of soaring rental costs and tight purse strings.
A report on Slough’s homelessness was presented on Thursday, December 11, by SBC’s strategic housing services lead Colin Moone at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting.
Over the past four years there have been around 2,500 applicants on SBC’s housing register, despite around 300 to 400 social housing allocations being made each year.
The report says SBC had a total of 1905 homelessness approaches in 2016/17, 465 of which were on an emergency basis and 1440 of which needed housing advice.
The number of households in temporary accommodation in the borough has shot from 74 in 2013/14 to 378 in 2017/18, amounting to a 510 per cent hike, the number now standing at 388.
The meeting’s report was about statutory homelessness, which covers people who are on the housing waiting list, having been declared ‘unintentionally homeless’ by the council.
Mr Moone said an ongoing challenge faced by SBC is homeless people being found accommodation in Slough by London Boroughs, who can offer more money to landlords.
Once tenancies expire, homeless people find themselves stuck in Slough and often then present themselves to SBC.
Outside boroughs have notified the council of around 500 family placements in the past three years, but SBC estimates this only accounts for a third of outsiders being moved into the town.
SBC is only advised of placements in temporary housing but not of all private sector arrangements.
Mr Moone said the council would have to consider moving people into cheaper areas to compete, despite it being ‘unappealing and not very human’.
“If we don’t do that, we go out of business,” he added.
He said rental rates which are outstripping house prices, the cost of living and incoming welfare reforms like Universal Credit, will all make families struggle to keep afloat.
“This is the reality, because of welfare reforms that have come in we've got people in temporary accommodation that can't afford to live in Slough,” he said.
However, the council’s report said there has been ‘steady progress’ in speeding up housing delivery with a number of council and social housing projects underway.
Mr Moone mentioned Slough Urban Renewal utilising unused small sites to create new homes.
Committee member Cllr Wal Chahal (Con, Upton), who works closely with Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC) said the charity has experienced roughly an intake dip of about 50 per cent since it moved to its Whitby Road site in September.
He said its non-central location meant many homeless people either struggle to get to its day centre or do not know where it is and asked if SBC could help find SHOC a new home.
The meeting took place at St Martins Place in Bath Road.
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