QUESTION SUBMITTED BY COUNCILLOR MONEY TO THE CABINET MEMBER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES, HEALTH AND HOUSING –
“Under the Homelessness Suitability of Accommodation (England Order 2003), it is illegal to place families with children or pregnant women in B&B accommodation for more than 6 weeks in any circumstances. According to data published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, 51 families in Hillingdon have been in B&B for more than 6 weeks at the end of March this year. Can the Cabinet Member please assure us that this will not occur again in Hillingdon?”
“Councillor Corthorne advised that considerable effort was being made to reduce the number of people in bed and breakfast accommodation but that this was a constant challenge. However, progress was being made through the application of new criteria and by taking preventative action. This had resulted in a decrease of 50% between 31 March 2014 and 10 September 2014. The number of people in bed and breakfast accommodation fluctuated and each case needed to be looked at in detail to ensure that only genuine cases were progressed. Furthermore, as the current housing market was proving challenging, the Council had been working with landlords to identify properties and was offering finder’s fees. However, as all councils were aware, it was still hard to locate suitable properties as landlords wanted to maximise their income so would rent properties for the best price that they could achieve. As part of the planning process, the Council was negotiating with developers to include affordable housing in their developments. The Council would use its best endeavours to prevent residents from being on the street and only used bed and breakfast accommodation as a last resort. To this end, the Cabinet Member thanked officers for their efforts in these difficult circumstances”
Councillor Money, by way of a supplementary question, asked whether or not the Council had been putting aside money to cover compensation payments and whether or not this would affect the Council’s budget plans?
“Councillor Corthorne advised that the Council would deal with any issues as they arose and noted that he would rather talk about the work that was being undertaken by the Council to address the issues”.