Plans Approved for £340k Annual Investment in Supported Homeless Accommodation, Saving £500k on B&Bs
Plans to spend £340,000 a year on new supported accommodation for the homeless to save money on the use of B&Bs have been given the go ahead.
What a report to council described as an “invest to save” opportunity was approve by full council on Wednesday, November 8, and will see the authority part-funding 15-20 units of supported accommodation.
This will be offset by saving about £500,000 a year on B&Bs being used as temporary accommodation, meaning an overall saving of £160,000.
The aim is to allow the council to not only meet its statutory housing duties but also to reduce the over-reliance on B&B provision.
The report mentions the “excessive reliance” on temporary accommodation such as B&Bs in Merthyr Tydfil since the implementation of the “No-one left out” policy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It said that in 2022-23, the council spent £850,310 after grant funding from Welsh Government. The current projection for this financial year, which includes grant funding from Welsh Government of £474,986, stands at £2,278,780.
The report said there is a consistent population of 100-120 homeless applicants living in temporary accommodation, which increases by about 50 cases including those living in hostel and temporary supported accommodation who will require permanent accommodation when ready.
The report said: “We need to transition to expand the variety of housing options to address the current and anticipated local housing demands more effectively.
“This approach will ensure that applicants with the most pressing housing needs are housed appropriately.
“It will also result in a decrease in the utilisation of bed and breakfast accommodations and reduce the negative impact of prolonged stays in inadequate housing, which can be destabilising for individuals.”
The capital cost will be mainly met out of the Welsh Government Transitional Accommodation Capital Programme (TACP) funding, with some contributions from Merthyr Valleys Homes.
The council said it can make a £50,000 contribution to help with the viability of it, should this be a barrier, from the dedicated capital budget to take the development forward.
The revenue costs currently being paid in this number of units of B&B provision are around £534,387 a year, covering room and security costs.
The council also receives around £34,000 in housing benefit income so it costs the council around £500,000 a year.
The costs of a 15-20-unit supported accommodation is likely to be around £440,000 a year with £100,000 coming from the Housing Support Grant so a £340,000 contribution is needed from the council per year.
The report said this would be saving of around £160,000 a year while providing suitable accommodation in line with Welsh Government requirements and making the council compliant in meeting its statutory duties.
The report said B&Bs are not suitable accommodation under the housing legislation and should only be used for very short-term emergencies which currently isn’t the case due to unprecedented demand.
It also said legislative reform proposed by Welsh Government includes an amendment to the Suitability of Accommodation Order 2015 and would mean councils will no longer be able to use B&Bs, except in public health emergencies.
The council report added there are also risks with these types of provision as there are no formal agreements or contracts in place so the council risks losing them at short notice.
It added: “Without a dedicated team of trained support staff to manage not only the day-to-day operations but also to provide essential housing-related support, many individuals may struggle to transition to more sustainable housing solutions.
“Implementing this provision would address and resolve many of these challenges and allow us to reduce our over reliance on unsuitable B&B accommodation.”
It added any potential purchase would need to be done in the current financial year to access the current funding stream from the TACP and there is no guaranteed funding in future years.
The Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan approved by council in February
explains the council’s approach to ensuring people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness can access suitable housing and the right support in a timely and appropriate manner.
And in April , the council developed a Supported Accommodation and HMO Protocol which was approved by full council to allow the authority to meet its statutory duties to assess suitable properties for conversion into supported accommodation/houses in multiple occupation at pace and scale to help keep up with the unrelenting unprecedented homelessness pressures.
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