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More than 50 councils at Westminster crisis meeting

Council leaders from across the country met at Westminster in a joint bid to tackle homelessness and the financial crisis caused by temporary accommodation costs that are pushing a large swathe of councils to the verge of bankruptcy.

Westminster crisis meeting

Westminster crisis meeting
At yesterday's meeting organised by Eastbourne Borough Council, representatives from more than 50 councils gathered to discuss the social and financial emergency caused by soaring numbers of people presenting to councils as homeless.

Councillor Stephen Holt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, outlined the scale of the problem facing his council and the speed at which it has developed.

"Five years ago in Eastbourne, our 2018/19 spending on temporary accommodation was £1.4million. The figure this year is approaching £5million," he said.

"That means for every £1 we collect presently in Council Tax for Eastbourne Borough Council, 49p is spent on temporary accommodation, which is clearly unsustainable.

"It has been suggested that a Treasury minister may meet with a delegation of council leaders who came today and I very much hope that meeting happens soon so that we can work together quickly to solve this crisis facing many councils like us."

Among Councillor Holt's requests to government are to urgently uprate the housing benefit subsidy cap for temporary accommodation placements - the cap remains frozen at 2011 rates.

Today's Westminster summit, which included council leaders from all political parties, also heard from the charities Crisis and The Trussell Trust.

Jasmine Basran (pictured speaking), Head of Policy and Campaigns at Crisis, said: "The Westminster government's own figures show that in the last year, 298,430 households have approached their local council for homelessness support. Yet years of chronic underfunding is forcing councils to consider ending these vital services in an effort to balance the books.  

"We cannot allow people in desperate situations to be left without access to vital help and trapped in homelessness. We urgently need the government to provide the levels of funding that councils need if we're to tackle this rising crisis and ensure that people can find a safe and secure home."

Published on January 24, 2024.

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