Thursday, December 1, 2022

Ending out-of-borough temporary accommodation placements set to be a “dream come true” for Thurrock’s Cabinet Member for Housing

THURROCK Conservatives have hailed the success of a property acquisition project that looks set to end out-of-borough temporary accommodation placements; has effectively removed the necessity for anyone to sleep rough in Thurrock; and will save Thurrock taxpayers many millions of pounds.  

Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Luke Spillman, said “I have been a staunch and extremely vocal campaigner against the practice of out-of-borough temporary accommodation placements for many years.  I make no bones about it, exporting large numbers of vulnerable members of your community, experiencing a housing crisis, to other areas of the country, is quite simply ‘social cleansing’.   

When I became Portfolio Holder in May 2021 our direction was clear.  We built on the solid foundation my predecessor, Cllr Johnson, had built, and supercharged the property acquisition project.  We also publicly committed the Council to ending all out-of-borough placements (except those made for safeguarding reasons or request by the applicant) by the end of 2022. 

“Officers responded this target with great enthusiasm and achieved incredible results.  We demanded such a strict target, for two reasons, firstly I abhor the practice of out-of-borough placements, for me, every enforced out-of-borough placements represents a failure.   Secondly, we were extremely concerned about the risk of a surge in the number of families presenting to the council as homeless in the aftermath of the pandemic.   We believed it was essential to build temporary accommodation capacity, and to do so extremely quickly, in order to protect Thurrock from a potential homelessness crisis.  Hindsight has proven that we made the correct decision. Since the start of this calendar year alone the number of temporary accommodation placements has increased by 39%.  Make no mistake, without this project we would be facing a homelessness crisis in Thurrock today.  

“Prior to the project commencing, the Council, like most other local authorities, had become dependent upon private providers of temporary accommodation.  This number peaked in January 2021 at 174.   Such properties were on average £8528/year more expensive than the average cost of the properties we have acquired through the property acquisition project.  This left the Council with an unsustainable bill every year to cover the shortfall between, what we could reasonably charge the tenant, and the rent the landlords were charging us.  Furthermore, due to the shortage of landlords within the borough, the Council was forced to source many properties outside of Thurrock.  The number of homeless residents placed outside the borough peaked in 2021 at 102.  This situation was financially unsustainable and ethically unacceptable.   

“By taking this action through the property acquisition project we are saving taxpayers a small fortune; we have built emergency capacity to manage the surge in homeless cases; and we are on the verge of being able to end all out-of-borough temporary accommodation places.   In addition, by building extra accommodation provision we have been able to effectively remove the need for any Thurrock resident to have to sleep on the streets of the borough.  Even more remarkably, all this has been achieved during an unprecedented surge in demand for temporary accommodation.   

“This is an incredible success story delivered thanks to the dedication and innovation of outstanding housing officers at Thurrock Council.  It’s a success beneficial to anyone in Thurrock who finds themselves facing a housing crisis.  I’m extremely proud to have been a part of this effort.  As a homeless policy campaigner for many years, this is quite simply like witnessing a dream come true.”  

1 COMMENT

  1. It’s a great pity that the Tory Council wasted £bns on a vanity scheme.
    Money which will take decades to replenish and the & the £000s of administration costs which have to be paid.
    But no mention of that, is there?

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