Breckland leaders approve £1 million temporary housing plan

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More than £1 million is set to be invested in providing new temporary accommodation to support families at risk of becoming homeless.

The plan was backed by Breckland Council leaders last Tuesday and comes as new laws requiring councils to do more in the area come into force next week.

Gordon Bambridge, the authority’s executive member for place, said: “Perhaps due to long-term sickness or unemployment, families or individuals can find themselves in crisis and at risk of homelessness.

“We have a duty to support these vulnerable people and, by providing temporary accommodation and offering support and advice, we can help them get back on their feet and find a more permanent home.”

The authority currently has 14 units providing temporary housing and, when they are filled, families are placed in bed and breakfasts.

But officials believe 10 to 15 extra units are needed across the district to meet an existing shortfall in supply.

They also say bed and breakfasts are often not suitable for families, and costly, and claim the new scheme will reduce the district’s reliance on such accommodation.

Just over half of the money is being drawn from a fund the council established in 2010, when it agreed to set aside £250,000 a year for four successive years towards affordable housing provision. Around £525,000 of that remains.

The remainder, around £477,000, is being drawn from money already paid to the authority by private developers as contributions towards the development of affordable housing instead of building that sort of property as part of their own schemes.

The council says that 72 affordable homes have been built across the district since 2015, using around £336,000 of funds from developers.

The approval of the plan comes ahead of the implementation of the new Homelessness Reduction Act next week, which requires councils to extend the range of support services they provide to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

A report by officers said: “An increasing number of local authorities are exploring the scope to make available short term accommodation to households to whom the council does not owe a statutory duty to provide accommodation, as a means of taking an increasingly proactive approach in preventing and alleviating homelessness.

“Investment in additional provision will broaden the ability of the council to take a similar approach.”