Liverpool looks to private rented sector to help cut homelessness bill

Liverpool City Council is looking to work with the private rented sector to help reduce the amount of money spent supporting families facing homelessness.

The Council has seen temporary accommodation costs rise from £250,000 in 2019, to a projected £25m by the end of this financial year.

That’s the budget equivalent of everything the Council spends on Culture, Tourism, Parks and Youth Services, or what would be raised in income if Council Tax was increased by 12.5 per cent.

Almost 1,000 families are currently in temporary accommodation – 558 of which are in B&Bs or hotels. The city has seen a spike in homelessness numbers due to a rise in Section 21 eviction notices, fulled by rent rises caused by an increase in mortgage interest rates.

Liverpool’s situation has also been compounded by the number of people who are being granted the right to remain in the city. A total of 390 individuals in this situation have presented themselves as homeless to the Council in the past three months, due to changes in the Home Office’s asylum assessment process.

The Council Leader, Cllr Liam Robinson, and Cabinet member for Housing Cllr Sarah Doyle wrote to the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, MP, last year outlining the scale of the issue and the need for government support.

While talks continue the Council has now devised a plan to curb costs in the coming years.

A report to the Council’s Cabinet is to be considered next Wednesday, 1 February which recommends the authority begins a procurement exercise for the provision of 400 private sector properties for a period of up to five years.

If approved, the proposed contract would start on 1 June 2024, with an estimated cost of £19m until 2029 – a net saving of £121m if current trends continue.

A key aim of the plan is to enable families to move out of B&Bs and hotels into more suitable and sustainable accommodation. There are currently 62 families who have been housed in B&Bs/hotels for more than six months.

Image: AR

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