Extra £80,000 for Bognor Regis B&B accommodation

PAYING B&B costs for homeless families around Bognor Regis is costing the council £640 a day.

The total bill across the Arun district for the first seven days of this month came to £4,500, leading councillors were told.

This prompted Arun District Council cabinet members to agree to spend £80,000 on B&B accommodation to add to the £192,000 budget for the year to the end of March.

The money is spent on ensuring eligible families have a roof over their heads.

Cabinet member for housing Roger Elkin said: “It’s right we make provision to accommodate this.

“It’s probably no surprise there’s a large demand on housing in the south east that puts this additional pressure on.

“We want people living in housing which is the right accommodation.

“The work we are doing in providing affordable houses goes some way to trying to address that.

“The main thing is that we make adequate provision to meet that need.”

Council leader Gillian Brown said: “We don’t have any choice but to provide this money. It’s our responsibility.”

She said providing homes was more than a case of building new properties.

“Bringing empty homes back into use is as important as building new ones,” she said.

Brian Pople, Arun’s head of housing, told the cabinet: “The numbers of homeless people show no sign of reducing.

“It could be because of the end of assured short term tenancies, parental eviction or fleeing from domestic violence.

“In terms of age groups affected, these extend from those in their very late teens through to people in their 60s.

“During the past few months, a significant number of homeless cases has involved families with parents in the 30-40 age group.”

A snapshot on a day in mid-October showed ten singles or couples without dependents in B&B rooms and 17 families, he said.

The council introduced another eight temporary homes to add to the existing 34 to save on B&B costs. These were an average of £52 a night.

He said a deal had recently been agreed with Chichester District Council to use some of its temporary housing to further cut the B&B expenditure. This will be for an initial trial.

Arun was also deciding cases of homelessness quicker to reduce the need for B&B for those found to have made themselves homeless and more staff were working on the cases.

“Homeless veterans were being supported via specific charities to help reduce demand on the council’s services.

A change to the council’s housing allocation scheme had removed the automatic top banding given to homeless people to put them at the head of the waiting list, he added.