‘Devastating’ number of people needing housing support in Liverpool

The number of people seeking temporary accommodation across Liverpool in a bid to avoid homelessness is “devastating” according to a senior city leader.

Each year, around 6,500 people present to the city council as having nowhere to call home. To ensure those who want housing support get what they need, the cash-strapped local authority uses expensive measures including hotels and B&Bs – with the financial impact rocketing by 10,000% in the last five years.

Now a plan, described as a “means to an end” to engage the private rented sector to access hundreds of homes for up to five years, has been agreed by the local authority’s cabinet. 

Across the city, there are currently more than 500 households in emergency bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation – used as a measure to provide much-needed housing support. Of these, more than 400 have exceeded the six week limit to be in temporary accommodation (TA).

TA costs for the council have risen from £250,000 in 2019 to a projected £25m by the end of this financial year. That is a staggering 10,000% increase in five years.

The spend on temporary housing alone is the equivalent to its entire budget for culture, tourism, parks and youth services. It would take a 12.5% Council Tax increase across the city to raise enough funds for this specific area.

Endorsing the plan, which would lead to families moving into private rented properties for a short period while a more permanent setting is found, Cllr Sarah Doyle, cabinet member for housing, said there is an “unprecedented number of people living in temporary accommodation” and criticised the lack of a ban on no fault evictions nationally. It is thought around 400 homes will be sought.

Cllr Doyle said it was “devastating” to see the number of people in temporary accommodation when there are empty properties around the city, which will be looked at. She added how using the private sector was a “means to an end” and would sooner talk about greater numbers of affordable homes in the city.

Council leader Liam Robinson, who alongside Cllr Doyle wrote to Secretary of State, Michael Gove MP, at the end of last year outlining the scale of the issue and the need for government support criticised those in power in Westminster, saying it is a “national crisis with a national government not prepared to face up to it.” 

The authority is seeking to begin the new terms with agents as of June this year.

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