The Tory-driven cost of living crisis is still ravaging the UK. Inflation is still high, wages still low and the cost of necessities like food and energy keep rising. The single cost that is rising the most for the average person though, is rent and mortgages. In August 2023 rent prices increased 12%. If you exclude London where rent costs have totally spiralled out of control, the average renter spends 24% of their weekly income on rent alone. This is far more than homeowners spend on their mortgages. That does not mean that homeowners aren’t also having to pay more on their mortgages due to increasing inflation and high mortgage rates. In Nottingham more residents rent than own their own property, meaning that skyrocketing rents affect more people.
These rising costs have unfortunately meant that homelessness in the city has risen, alongside this the number of rough sleepers has also increased. This is because rising rents in the city, have outstripped the levels of Local Housing Allowance because this benefit hasn’t keep pace with rental inflation, and more people who are working relay on Local Housing Allowance to pay or support with rent. It is important to remember that not all homeless people are rough sleepers. In Nottingham most of those who are homeless are housed in temporary accommodation like hotels, or they may be sofa surfing living at friends and family’s properties short term. Rough sleepers also sometimes have had accommodation offered to them but due to their situation they may turn down sheltered accommodation or refuse to interact with the responsible services.
We have over 9,000 households on the Housing Register seeking social housing in the city. We have 761 households currently in temporary accommodation including B&B and Hotels, and every day new households facing a housing crisis seek help from the council’s housing aid service.
In Nottingham we are doing what we can to tackle both homelessness and rough sleeping. £800,000 of additional funding have been received which will help tackle rough sleeping. This is the 10th largest grant in the UK. 80% will go directly to our local partners and providers, Framework Nottingham Arimathea Trust, Bloom Social Housing and P3 to deliver accommodation and support services. The remaining 20% will ring fenced to be used for outreach to rough sleepers and on programmes to prevent rough sleeping from occurring.
NCC already have male and female supported accommodation for rough sleepers, and accommodation to support rough sleepers from abroad. We have specialist council roles to help those in need, and we have a strong focus on housing assessment and employment placement to help homeless people access work, and that our cross-partner work and support is effective and efficient.
But it’s not only rough sleepers we want to help. It costs Local Authorities a lot to house homeless people in hotels. Not only does it cost a lot, but its disruptive to those suffering homelessness especially families and vulnerable people. Therefore, we are building more bespoke temporary accommodation. Furthermore, now that our housing service has been returned to the council, we are moving forward with an accelerated programme to bring more void properties back into service, so that more social housing is available. We are also doing what we can to build more social housing.
We are not helped by central government. This year Michael Gove’s department handed back £1.6 billion earmarked for house building. The Chartered Institute for Housing stated that such a sum would have bought 5,000 affordable homes. While the government has scrapped housing targets, in Nottingham we have set them. Last term 1000 new homes were built, and this year we were elected on manifesto to build another 1000 homes over the next four years. If the government don’t have any ideas on how to spend this money, then maybe the opposition do. A government without ideas is a government that should call a general election.
Nottingham Labour knows how important social housing is, for so many people it is the only way they can access affordable, good quality housing. Our waiting list is too long, too many residents are waiting to get social housing. By bringing more properties back into service, by building more properties, by buying back council houses sold in right to buy.
We know though that there is not enough social housing for everyone who wants some. That’s why through services like Housing Solutions we can offer advice and help to those at risk of being homeless, to prevent it from occurring and to help them stay in private rental properties.
Councillor Jay Hayes, Portfolio Holder for Housing at Nottingham City Council, said: “Last year’s allocation of more than £6.5m was our largest award to date and the latest grant of more than £800,000 will continue to help make a big difference in our city.
“As ever, we’ve had to work hard to secure this money and it shows how much value is placed on the work we do alongside our partner agencies to support rough sleepers and homeless people in Nottingham.
“The country remains in a cost-of-living crisis and we are acutely aware of the impact this can have on individuals and families in a deprived area like Nottingham.
“We value our strong and established local partnerships and we thank them for their continued contributions and commitment. However, demand is increasing in Nottingham and further pressures are expected over the coming years.
“We remain committed to preventing rough sleeping. It is often a symptom of a wider problem or in more cases a combination of issues like substance dependency, mental health and trauma. We need to continue our work with partners and ensure commitment across the public, community and private sectors to help address the needs that cause street homelessness.”