Other councils housing their homeless in Redditch

By Ian Dipple Friday 04 January 2013 Updated: 04/01 08:59

HOMELESS people in Redditch are being moved into temporary accommodation outside of the borough because other councils are using the town's own properties for their homeless residents.

Redditch has the lowest number of homeless acceptances across Worcestershire, a larger proportion of social housing and is cheaper than other areas making it an attractive place for neighbouring councils to house residents, who would otherwise end up on the streets, while they find them a permanent place to live.

Coun Carole Gandy highlighted the problem during a debate on the borough council's new homelessness strategy during which she branded the situation unacceptable. In one case she said a Redditch family had been moved into Birmingham because available accommodation was taken up by people from other areas.

"I am more than happy we do our bit but if we have got our own people that are accepted as homeless and they have to go, not just outside the borough but Worcestershire as well, with children who are in school in Redditch, that is unacceptable," she told a recent executive committee meeting.

"We should be working with other councils to make sure they can accommodate their homeless."

Coun Mark Shurmer, responsible for housing on the council, added he was also concerned other councils could take advantage of cheap housing in the private sector in Redditch and create a much bigger homeless problem in the borough.

"If you get a council in a London borough which discharges its duty into the private sector and does a deal with a private landlord and puts their homeless into their properties, on short-term tenancies here because it's cheaper, then when they are made homeless guess whose problem they are?"

Derek Allen, the council's housing strategy manager, said there were examples when it was necessary to place homeless people outside of their own area such as a witness to a crime or a victim of domestic abuse. But he added a new agreement was being drawn up which would seek to ensure each council dealt with its own homeless people.

"Local authorities are seeking less expensive temporary accommodation provision for homeless households and it does present a problem for places like Redditch if bed and breakfast or similar accommodation is cheaper than in other areas, for example Birmingham, and local authorities can take advantage of that," he said.

"It could end up with prices being driven up locally because other local authorities are using provision in Redditch.

"You may not find it right and morally you may take a view on it, but under homeless legislation they are able to do it."

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