Homelessness spend in Liverpool could hit £90m amid 'unprecedented demand' for housing

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Council papers show the local authority has faced an “unprecedented demand” on its housing services.

Spending on emergency accommodation for those facing homelessness across Liverpool could hit £90m over the next three years.

As the city council battles with an ongoing housing crisis alongside continuing financial pressures, new documents have set out how far it still has to go. With more than 1,000 households in expensive temporary accommodation, cabinet papers have said the local authority has faced an “unprecedented demand” on its housing services.

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A new contract is to be awarded to help Liverpool Council place families in need in appropriate housing as it works to deliver a new housing strategy it hopes will relieve the strain on expensive external options.

The city council has a duty to provide first stage emergency accommodation in circumstances where vulnerable households present as homeless and where it needs further information to establish what assistance it is obliged to provide. Earlier this year, cabinet members engaged in a property review as part of its bid to reduce homelessness and its reliance on expensive temporary accommodation.

As it looks to award a new contract to assist with the provision of emergency accommodation, the council said it had faced an increase in numbers of people reporting as facing homelessness. A cabinet document said: “There has been a substantial increase in no fault evictions, affordability challenges as rents increase with local housing allowance staying far below the average rental costs and the challenging landscape that residents face with increasing economic pressures and health issues all contributing to the challenges residents face in holding down tenancies.

“There are currently 1090 households in temporary accommodation.”

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Where placements do need to happen, the city endeavours to ensure individuals are placed in suitable accommodation for the least amount of time possible. When it meets next week, the council’s cabinet is recommended to award a new contract for the next three years that will assist in placing families in required placements.

This came with a significant warning on how it could impact Liverpool’s coffers between now and 2027. The report said: “The maximum anticipated spend on emergency accommodation over the contract period is £90m excluding VAT.”

The proposed service will be used to book non-business related travel and emergency accommodation for vulnerable children, families and adults that present through Housing Options, Adult Access or through Social Care that require accommodation and/or travel services in crisis situations, or where the council has reason to believe people are homeless. The report added: “Suitability and health and safety requirements of the accommodation are ensured via the contract and a framework is in place for ensuring compliance with expected standards.

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“Households booked via the contract will be placed in a variety of hotels and serviced apartments as appropriate whilst their homelessness application is assessed and progressed and or safeguarding needs are met.”

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According to its own contract terms, the local authority “does not have a sufficient supply of permanent affordable suitable accommodation to meet the demand in the city.” As a result, it is seeking to develop and expand different options and approaches – including working alongside the private rented sector.

The cabinet report also outlined how best value may not always be attainable given the immediate need to help those facing the most bleak of circumstances. It said: “Emergency Bed and breakfast accommodation can be a costly solution and therefore best value overall may not always be achieved in the short-term due to the nature of these placements.

“However, this approach is currently the most efficient means of accessing accommodation and travel requirements in an emergency and crisis situation to meet individual needs and the fluctuating requirements presented to the council. The council has already entered into initial dialogue with hotels to gauge their ability to offer preferable rates and appetite to enter into block booking arrangements.

“This work will be expedited should the recommendations in this report be approved and will look to seek financial efficiencies where possible.”

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