South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) bosses have praised housing staff for a 75 per cent reduction in the use of bed and breakfasts as temporary accommodation while also keeping more people struggling to make ends meet in their own homes.
Despite a rise in the number of people stepping forward to SCDC for support, the bill for using B&Bs as temporary accommodation for vulnerable people now stands at around £2,000 per month, compared to over £8,000 in 2012/13.
Support offered by SCDC to prevent people becoming homeless has helped an average of 40 struggling households per quarter remain in their own property or find an alternative home – an increase from an average of 33 cases per quarter in 2012/13.
Over the last year, SCDC has also purchased ten former empty homes in the district which has increased the amount of good quality temporary accommodation available for people in need.
At a housing portfolio holder’s meeting Cllr Mark Howell heard how the bill for B&Bs had fallen and said that finding better short-term alternatives to B&Bs remains a priority to provide people with the best service possible while permanent accommodation could be found.
Building work by a housing association is also underway on redeveloping a former hostel in Waterbeach to improve temporary accommodation for local people, and SCDC is also beginning the next phase of their biggest building programme of new Council homes since the 1950s.
Cllr Howell, SCDC cabinet member for housing, said: “Reducing the amount we spend on bed and breakfasts for temporary accommodation is excellent news as it means we are able to provide vulnerable people with better quality accommodation which meets their needs.
“Using B&Bs is less than ideal and the reduction is staggering considering we are seeing more people stepping forward for support.
“My message to anyone struggling is to come and speak to us as early as possible.
“By coming to see us before your debt gets out of hand means we have more options on how we can help you and make sure you do not become homeless.”
For all the latest news see Thursday’s (April 17) Echo.