The number of people living in temporary accommodation in Hastings has increased significantly over the past year, according to a councillor.
Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing, said: “The number of our families facing the threat of homelessness is at an all-time high in Hastings caused by the perfect storm of the introduction of Universal Credit, the huge increase in rents and wages not keeping up with the cost of living.
“The number of people living in temporary accommodation has increased significantly over the past year. There are currently around 123 households living in temporary accommodation in Hastings. The average length of time people spend living in temporary accommodation has also increased to 130 days. This dreadful situation has a human cost to the individuals and their children but also for the town. The disruption to school life and work has a negative effect for us all.”
Cllr Batsford’s comments came in response to the recently published cabinet report on the flexible homelessness support grant.
He added: “In 2019/20 we are continuing to use the grant to make sure there is capacity with the housing team to meet the requirements of the new Homelessness Reduction Act. We are also investing in efforts to reduce the amount of time people spend living in temporary accommodation by improving access to long term accommodation, particularly in terms of providing rent in advance and deposits.”
The amount of money the council receives through the grant is fixed, but the number of families and the length of time spent in temporary accommodation have created additional financial pressures for the council, meaning the additional bill will hit £1 million this year.
Since 2018, all councils have a duty to work with people at risk of homelessness at an earlier stage, providing an intensive level of support to help them avoid becoming homeless.
The Homelessness Reduction Act also introduced new duties for local authorities to provide temporary accommodation for people who are actually homeless.