Agenda item

Temporary Accommodation Acquisition Programme

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources setting out a programme of capital investment to increase the Council’s temporary accommodation portfolio to reduce the costs associated with using hotels and other buildings to provide temporary accommodation for households who present to the Council as homeless.


57.1    The Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing Strategy, Councillor S. Chambers, introduced the report and explained that it sought to set out a programme of capital investment to increase the Council’s temporary accommodation portfolio to reduce the costs associated with using hotels and other buildings to provide temporary accommodation. She explained that where households were threatened with homelessness or made homeless, the Council had statutory obligations to safeguard those households, and in certain circumstances, to provide emergency temporary accommodation.


57.2    Councillor S. Chambers advised Members that the Council had seen a marked increase in the number of households being accommodated within temporary accommodation over the last 6 months. She explained that there was a significant challenge with accessing long-term accommodation due to high demand for rented accommodation in Gloucester.


57.3    The Chair expressed the view that the solution outlined in the report was sensible and noted that it was a shame that more support was not being provided to Councils from Central Government. He asked for clarification on what was meant by ‘exempt accommodation’ rates which Councillor S. Chambers provided.


57.4    The Chair asked for further information as to the buildings the Council was minded to acquire for the purposes of providing temporary accommodation. The Corporate Director confirmed that the Council was considering options, however accommodation was in short supply and that the recommendations in the report needed to be approved by Council before Officers could proceed with developing a programme.


57.5    Councillor Wilson expressed the view that the report was a good one and that he felt that the proposals were the right thing to do. He asked whether, even with increased interests rates, increasing the Council’s temporary accommodation through capital investments was cheaper than the current approach. The Corporate Director replied that it was, and that the Housing Innovation Manager was working closely with the Finance Team. She further expressed the view that increasing temporary accommodation provision was also a better way of providing support to households faced with homelessness.


57.6    The Chair asked why the Council proposed not to exceed acquisitions over £5m. The Corporate Director explained that the initial suggestion was £3m, however the Council wanted to provide some flexibility and the £5m figure was considered to be pragmatic.


57.7    In response to a query from Councillor Hilton regarding whether the proposed buildings for acquisition included traditional housing or office space, Councillor S. Chambers confirmed that all options were being considered and encouraged Members who had any ideas for suitable buildings to pass their suggestions onto the Housing Innovation Manager. The Corporate Director added that larger accommodation schemes were not always the best way of managing residents’ needs and smaller, varied schemes were the preferred option so that the right level of support could be provided to families.


57.8    Councillor Hilton observed that households seeking support from the Council had different needs, to which Councillor S. Chambers agreed. She referred to alternative schemes, such as Snow Capel, St Oswalds and Hill Farm, and expressed the view that the Council needed to work in tandem with developers on solutions.


57.9    Councillor Chambers-Dubus asked whether families who were made homeless were likely to be offered accommodation with their own bathroom facilities. Councillor S. Chambers confirmed that the Council was looking at all options and that she would like to see shared facilities among different households eradicated. This said, she noted that at the moment, there would be some accommodation with shared facilities however the best thing to do would be to increase temporary accommodation supply.


          RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the report.

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