Council looks to end B&B charges

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WIGAN Council has spent over £200,000 on bed and breakfast accommodation for the homeless, new figures have revealed.

Following a Freedom of Information request to Wigan Metro, the Wigan Evening Post can exclusively reveal that since 2006, the council’s housing department has spent £204,955 on B&Bs for the borough’s homeless.

However the annual spend has decreased year on year since 2007/08 and so far in 2011/12, there has been nothing spent to date.

In 2007/08 the council spent £67,058 on B&Bs, but this dropped to £45,937 the following year and by 2010/11, this was reduced to £3,079.

Peter Layland, Head of Housing and Community Regeneration at Wigan Council, said: “Despite all these efforts we are still forced to utilise temporary accommodation and we offer a wide range managed by the Council, Housing Associations and occasionally the private sector.

“This accommodation is in the form of supported housing schemes and furnished tenancies in houses or flats dispersed across the borough.

“By doing this, people who are homeless are able to maintain their support and social networks, access the same schools, GPs etc.

“When a household moves into temporary accommodation, they themselves are liable for rent charges (not the council) and the costs are met through a combination of rent and benefit payments.

“The only temporary accommodation the Council pays for directly and is  unable to recover it’s full costs is bed and breakfast.

“One of the key targets of our homelessness strategy is to end the use of B&B accommodation in all but exceptional circumstances.

“Not only is B&B costly, there are far more suitable alternatives. Although I expect homelessness to begin to rise again in the borough because of the economic climate and the housing market, we shall endeavour to avoid the use of B&B.

 “We use a range of temporary accommodation and so the direct cost to the Council is only part of the picture due to the way we support people who become homeless.”