Temporary accommodation bills slashed for homeless Northampton families

The price reductions were agreed at The Guildhall this week
The price reductions were agreed at The Guildhall this week

Homeless families in Northampton are set to see their bills for temporary accommodation slashed from the beginning of next month.

On July 2, the amount that a four-person family staying in bed and breakfast pays per week will reduce from £385 to £137.56, a reduction of £247.44 per week.

And a four-bedroom temporary house will fall from £413 per week to £280.73 per week.

The price slashes were given the green light at Northampton Borough Council’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening.

Councillor Stephen Hibbert, cabinet member for housing, told the meeting: “It’s important that we make it more affordable by reducing the amount of charges.

“Until now the amount households have had to pay is based on how much the council is charged by the housing suppliers. The new charging arrangements will substantially reduce the amount as they will be based on local housing allowance rates.”

The number of households living in temporary accommodation has more than quadrupled between March 2016 and March 2018 due to a severe shortage of affordable and social rented housing.

At the end of May, there were 258 households in temporary accommodation. 179 of these were in nightly-purchased private homes, 19 were in bed and breakfast, and 60 were in council-owned homes through NPH.

It has seen the amount of money the council has spent on temporary accommodation increase by 366 per cent over the last three years.

The new Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into effect in April, requires local authorities to try to resolve a person’s homelessness within 56 days.

Council papers say that the reduced charges will have a ‘positive impact on households affected by the weekly benefit cap of £385’ and that this would see them less reliant on Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) to help them meet the shortfall.

It will also free up time for workers processing benefit and DHP claims to deal with remaining claims more promptly.

The authority also stated in the cabinet papers that its net cost for temporary accommodation would increase by £156,000 per year, but ‘it is hoped part of this may be offset by the resulting efficiency improvements and improved collection rates’.