Earlier in 2018 we set the target of ensuring Nottingham City Council would not need to temporarily accommodate any children in a Bed & Breakfasts by the end of the year. After a lot of hard work and focus, I was proud to hear on Christmas Eve there are now no children staying in a B & B in Nottingham.
Homelessness is on the rise across the country, with Shelter estimating nationally 130,000 children are in temporary accommodation and 10,000 expected to wake up on Christmas Day in a B & B. Until 2015 we had not had to use Bed & Breakfasts for over a decade. Likewise, until 2010 Nottingham City Council alone used to receive £26 million annually in funding for the underlying issues that can lead to homelessness, and at that time levels of homelessness in Nottingham and nationally were much lower. Since then, this funding has been scrapped altogether and the money we do receive from government to support our services. Revenue Support Grant funding has also dropped from £126million in 2013/14 to just £25million now. In addition to this, the Government’s changes to welfare, specifically its introduction of Universal Credit, is leaving more people in debt, rent-arrears and ultimately homeless. In October, there were over 100 households in Nottingham who had to be temporarily placed in B & Bs, of which two-thirds were families with children.
Over the past few months we have been bringing together lots of council services to reduce the number of people in bed and breakfasts to zero. This has included buying back council housing lost under right to buy to be used as more suitable temporary accommodation and taking action to prevent unnecessary evictions in the first place. Last year, we were able to prevent 258 people from sleeping rough and this year we have secured an extra £420,000 to help fund this work and provide extra bed spaces to cope with an additional demand.
Thank you to Housing Aid, Community Protection, Framework, Emmanuel House, Nottingham Together and Nottingham City Homes for working so hard together to achieve this target. Their work has ensured there is enough alternative accommodation for homeless families in hostels, such as social housing or private housing.
Our task now is to maintain this throughout 2019.
Cllr Linda Woodings
Portfolio Holder for Housing, Planning and Heritage