Homeless Northampton families to get a house two months quicker

The changes will be discussed at the Guildhall on Wednesday evening
The changes will be discussed at the Guildhall on Wednesday evening

Homeless families will no longer have to spend weeks in expensive B&Bs at the tax payer's expense before they are given a home, if the borough council adopts a new policy.

Currently people who are homeless unintentionally must spend 56 days in pay-by-the-night accommodation or B&Bs paid for by the council before they can be given the keys to a permanent home.

There were 242 households in that situation last month, costing the taxpayer £360,000 a year.

But new policy set to be adopted in Northampton will see these people put straight into the Emergency Band, allowing them to move into a home without delay.

Phil Harris, head of housing at the Guildhall, said in a report in which he recommends the change to councillors: "An extended stay in temporary accommodation may cause severe hardship, especially families that are placed in bed and breakfasts outside of Northampton Borough because there is no other accommodation available.

"Given the high cost... we must use every opportunity to reduce the use."

Sometimes homeless applicants turn out not to be eligible for permanent housing because their predicament was their own fault or they are not classed as 'priority'.

These people are still placed in temporary accommodation at the taxpayer's expense while their background is checked

It means the council is now paying for a total of 305 households (up from just 66 in 2016).

Mr Harris said the new legislation will help relieve the burden on the public purse, but will not abolish it.

He said: "The net cost of accommodating homeless people in temporary accommodation has increased dramatically in recent years and is placing a huge strain on the council's budget.

"The current forecast is that, in 2018/19 the temporary accommodation budget could be overspent by £1.7 million.

"There is still a very urgent need to reduce the number of households in temporary accommodation and to secure alternative, less expensive, types of temporary accommodation."