Greens criticise soaring payments to private landlords for emergency accommodation

Posted On 12 Jul 2018 at 11:14 am

The cost of emergency and temporary accommodation has soared in five years as the number of homeless people in Brighton and Hove has gone up.

The Green Party has criticised the council for paying private landlords more than five times as much for short-term places as it did five years ago.

Councillor David Gibson, who speaks for the party on housing, said that the rising cost was “shocking” and the service should be brought in-house.

Brighton and Hove City Council pays millions of pounds to private landlords, some of it under long-term contracts aimed at containing costs.

But Councillor Gibson obtained the figures for the spot purchase of short-term temporary accommodation over five years.

The figures showed that – once housing benefit money was taken out of the equation – the cost to the council had gone up from £516,000 in 2013-14 to £2.77 million in 2017-18.

In the most recent financial year, to the end of March, the bill was more than £800,000 higher than the £1.94 million figure for the previous year.

The Greens said: “With costs of such accommodation continuing to rise, Greens want to see public money used to provide services to those at risk of rough sleeping, rather than given to private companies.

“A set of proposals put forward by the Greens in December 2017 called for an investigation into the savings that could be achieved through council ownership of short-term accommodation. Despite being backed by all parties, the Labour council has yet to deliver a report on the matter.

“With costs to the council escalating, Greens are calling for urgent action and have criticised the Labour council for failing to back Green budget proposals that would have made funds available to buy suitable accommodation.”

Councillor Gibson said: “It is shocking that privately provided short-term emergency accommodation costs £2.77 million.

“Instead of publicly subsidised rents going to private landlords, it’s a no brainer that the council should provide its own emergency and temporary accommodation, which could be done at a much lower cost to the public purse.

Councillor David Gibson

“With resources tight, we are calling for our proposals to use cheap borrowing to buy buildings to be properly explored.

“We called for this to be investigated back in December. Now the costs are escalating, it is more urgent than ever and the Labour council needs to get a move on and look at the options for council-run short-term accommodation.

“Other councils that have started doing this have already reported huge savings – but crucially also a better service.”

He said that the council could also provide a better service to homeless people through delivering its own emergency accommodation.

he added that private landlords were currently under no obligation to provide support services to vulnerable tenants in emergency accommodation.

Labour said: “Everyone is aware of the high cost of providing emergency and temporary accommodation for people in urgent housing need, especially in a city like Brighton and Hove.

“Unfortunately, due to the national housing crisis and Conservative austerity policies, costs have continued to rise.

“However, the Green Party will know that as a Labour council we are already delivering new council-owned temporary accommodation for those in housing need – with 10 new homes completed at Stonehurst Court and 12 new homes planned at Oxford Street.

“Stonehurst Court is now occupied and, alongside giving families new high-quality accommodation, we are making savings which will continue as we move forward with schemes like these.

“Another scheme for 15 more temporary accommodation units is also planned and we intend to carry on working hard to provide more council-owned temporary and emergency accommodation.

“So we agree with Councillor Gibson that the cost of emergency and temporary accommodation for residents is a valid concern but what really matters is the delivery of new council-owned units, which is taking place, alongside our work to try to reduce the number of households that reach a housing crisis.

“We would welcome Councillor Gibson acknowledging that as a Labour council we have been more focused on delivering new council-owned temporary accommodation than when his party led the council.”

  1. SFR Reply

    It is high time light was shone on this diabolical state of affairs. The amount spent with a small coterie of special private landlords by BHCC Housing and Adult Social Care departments is indefensible and obscene. There are many observations relevant to this matter.
    1. The most worrying aspect of this is that most of the expenditure is without contracts. Thus, wide open to financial impropriety and complete lack of accountability. Absolutely unacceptable for any public expenditure, especially given the apparently very “cosy” relationships between BHCC and some private landlords.
    2. There are no metrics or evaluation to ensure value for taxpayers’ money.
    3. There are no definitions of “temporary”. BHCC pays eye-watering rates to the special private landlords for some individual for months and even years.
    4. The accommodation standards are often revolting, and fall so far short of anything remotely acceptable for provision by any authority spending any taxpayers’ money. The minimum accommodation standards for temporary-emergency accommodation should be exacly the same as for accommodation provided by the local authority itself – not an iota less. Take a look at some of the places BHCC lucratively sponsors in central Hove – the view from the street is enough. Windows so dirty they are opaque, filthy tatty curtains, shabby premises, stained and soiled floors, chipped paint and wall paper, light shades caked with dust and grease
    5. Non-functioning macerator toilets that are “conveniently” overlooked by BHCC .
    6. Planning breaches that are assigned enforcement numbers but never manage to be followed through and just sit on file “waiting for resources to investigate”.
    7. Collusion with Sussex partnership to dump seriously mentally ill people is the most revolting of circumstances in which they stand no chance of even a care plan being effective much less illness remission or recovery.
    8. Excess deaths of young people housed in these places with a corner who does not investigate more thoroughly, joint the dots, or publicise the data.
    9. No protection for local taxpaying communities from the fall-out of badly managed private “B&Bs” that are associated with pervasive, intractable and seemingly unresolvable levels of antisocial behaviour.
    10. Intimidation of long-term residents living in the neighbourhood.
    11. Ad libitum illicit drug consumption and visiting dealers allowed.
    & the list goes on.

    And BHCC has the audacity to criticise private landlords and housing standards in this city when all along it is such a prolific purchaser of slum accommodation from private landlords. Hypocritical is an understatement. Tracey Hill et al just turn a blind eye. There is a lot of “turning a blind eye” when it comes to temporary-emergency accommodation in this town.

  2. SFR Reply

    It is high time light was shone on this diabolical state of affairs. The amount spent with a small coterie of special private landlords by BHCC Housing and Adult Social Care departments is indefensible and obscene. There are many observations relevant to this matter.
    1. The most worrying aspect of this is that most of the expenditure is without contracts. Thus, wide open to financial impropriety and complete lack of accountability. Absolutely unacceptable for any public expenditure, especially given the apparently very “cosy” relationships between BHCC and some private landlords.
    2. There are no metrics or evaluation to ensure value for taxpayers’ money.
    3. There are no definitions of “temporary”. BHCC pays eye-watering rates to the special private landlords for some individual for months and even years.
    4. The accommodation standards are often revolting, and fall so far short of anything remotely acceptable for provision by any authority spending any taxpayers’ money. The minimum accommodation standards for temporary-emergency accommodation should be exacly the same as for accommodation provided by the local authority itself – not an iota less. Take a look at some of the places BHCC lucratively sponsors in central Hove – the view from the street is enough. Windows so dirty they are opaque, filthy tatty curtains, shabby premises, stained and soiled floors, chipped paint and wall paper, light shades caked with dust and grease
    5. Non-functioning macerator toilets that are “conveniently” overlooked by BHCC .
    6. Planning breaches that are assigned enforcement numbers but never manage to be followed through and just sit on file “waiting for resources to investigate”.
    7. Collusion with Sussex partnership to dump seriously mentally ill people is the most revolting of circumstances in which they stand no chance of even a care plan being effective much less illness remission or recovery.
    8. Excess deaths of young people housed in these places with a coroner who does not investigate more thoroughly, join the dots, or publicise the data.
    9. No protection for local communities from the fall-out of badly managed private “B&Bs” that are associated with pervasive, intractable and seemingly unresolvable levels of antisocial behaviour.
    10. Intimidation of long-term residents living in the neighbourhood.
    11. Ad libitum illicit drug consumption and visiting dealers allowed.
    & the list goes on.

    And BHCC has the audacity to criticise private landlords and housing standards in this city when all along it is such a prolific purchaser of slum accommodation from private landlords. Hypocritical is an understatement. Tracey Hill et al just turn a blind eye. There is a lot of “turning a blind eye” when it comes to temporary-emergency accommodation in this town.

  3. SFR Reply

    Another interesting read… look at how much BHCC spends with these special landlords

    Baron Homes Ltd, Hartman Homes, Wolsey Hotel Ltd, Solutions Accommodation Providers Ltd, Hove Wardley Company, BNK Jevington LLP, BLSM LLP, Seraphim Accommodation Providers Ltd

    Brighton and Hove City Council Creditor Payments
    http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-and-democracy/council-finance/payments-over-%C2%A3250

  4. Annaliese Page Reply

    I think people need to be careful what they wish for. Rents in Brighton are high – costs of property is high – the council would spend a fortune buying on the open market. At least BHCC haven’t done what lots of London councils have done and ship their homeless people to Newcastle and Stoke on Trent – that would bring the costs down – is this what people want

  5. annaliese page Reply

    And lets look at how many councillors have homes they rent out in the B&H. If they really cared, they would rent them to the council at a low rate so that homeless people could use them

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