Nottingham council hopes to stop housing the homeless in hotels as costs reach £7m

A person rough sleeping in Nottingham city centre
A person rough sleeping in Nottingham city centre
By Jamie Waller, Local Democracy Reporter

A new emergency accommodation system is being developed in Nottingham to try to cope with soaring demand for homelessness and cut the number of families being housed temporarily in hotels.

The city is experiencing a crisis in terms of the number of people losing their homes, with an average of 120 homeless families applying to Nottingham City Council for housing every week in January.

An average of 120 homeless families – defined as a household with children or a pregnant mother – applied to Nottingham City Council for housing every week in January.

Housing people in need is one of the legal duties the council must fulfil despite its ongoing financial crisis. But the authority is turning to more expensive hotels and B&Bs as its own temporary accommodation is frequently full.

There were 650 families in temporary accommodation in Nottingham at the end of January – 143 of them in hotels.

The soaring cost of homelessness is one of the reasons blamed for the city council’s precarious finances, which have required sweeping cuts to its budget for the next 12 months.

Temporary accommodation is predicted to cost the council £6.7m this financial year – far outstripping its £4m budget.

A report going before a council committee next week lays out plans to move away from hotels and B&Bs in favour of cheaper private accommodation, such as flats, houses and other self-contained units.

The system will use money already allocated for temporary accommodation to house residents in places other than hotels.

This is expected to be at least 15 per cent cheaper, using block bookings in advance rather than on-the-day hotel bookings.

If all hotel stays are replaced, the system is expected to save £1.1m in the coming financial year.

A list of possible suppliers will be drawn up by June 2024.

Since 2017, Nottingham City Council has increased the amount of temporary accommodation available for homeless families from fewer than 100 units to more than 500.

However, this figure has still been unable to keep up with the number of people threatened with homelessness due to rising rents, the cost of living crisis and the lack of affordable housing.

The council is working with more than 2,100 families who are either homeless or are in danger of being, according to the report going before the committee.

It says that the overspend on temporary accommodation has been driven by “high demand and prices commanded by hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation for relatively short stays”.

The council also says it has a plan to increase homelessness prevention work and reduce the time it needs to accommodate people for.

The long-term use of hotels has been deemed unsuitable for families due to the lack of cooking and living facilities.

Government guidance says families with children shouldn’t be placed there for more than six weeks.

The council’s pilot scheme will be discussed at the committee on Tuesday, March 12.

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