Northampton Borough Council forced to house homeless families in bed & breakfasts out of town

Homeless families are being sent to Kettering and Wellingborough for housing as there is none in Northampton.
Homeless families are being sent to Kettering and Wellingborough for housing as there is none in Northampton.

Homeless families from Northampton are being sent to bed and breakfasts out of town because the borough council does not have enough room to house them, a councillor has said.

As part of a "last resort" measure for homeless people on universal credit or housing benefits, Northampton Borough Council can put families up in B&Bs when they run out of space in their own temporary accommodation.

But families are now being sent miles out of town to Kettering and Wellingborough for housing - while this year the borough council's spending on B&Bs jumped to more than ten times the amount than four years ago.

Chair for the borough council's homelessness scrutiny committee Zoe Smith said: "Becoming homeless is a stressful and upsetting time for anyone. Sending them out of town and taking them away from their support network of friends, family and schooling will only cause more harm."

Northampton Borough Council has a number of flats in the town to house families who become homeless. When these are full, the families can instead be put up in B&Bs as a "last resort".

But when the town's accommodation is full, the council will transport the families to rooms outside of Northampton, such as Kettering or Wellingborough.

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, the borough council cabinet member for housing and wellbeing, said: “The council works very hard to ensure that, wherever possible, homeless households are placed in temporary accommodation within the borough. However, we are sometimes left with no other option but to place families in temporary accommodation outside of the borough.”

However, figures show that in May and April 2017, Northampton Borough Council paid £269,095 to house homeless people in bed & breakfasts - compared to £20,000 for the same period in 2013.

It comes as Northampton Borough Council's cabinet was recently called on to create a five-year action plan to cut the town's number of homeless households.

Councillor Zoe Smith said: "We're facing a situation where children and young people have to change schools because their family was sent out of Northampton, and the borough council has no statutory responsibility to transport them back to their own schools. This can have a huge impact on a young person's education and wellbeing.

"The council needs to build more accommodation and create and enact an ambitious plan to minimise the use of bed & breakfasts and out-of-borough accommodation."

"People can be made homeless for any reason. Their landlord could put their rent up or they could fall out with their partner and left without a place to live. It can happen to anyone."