A report before Southwark’s Cabinet last week revealed yet more money is needed to house people in temporary private housing due to a lack of social housing in the borough.
The latest unbudgeted top up is £4 million:
This follows a £9 million allocation this financial year. The authority had 3,000 households in temporary accommodation – often at high cost per night – by the end of 2020.
A range of measures have led here; a lack of funds from central Government for new affordable housing while they fuel price increases through a £4 billion stamp duty tax cut last year. Right to Buy has also removed social housing, with limits on how income is to be spent exacerbating the problem. Only 30 per cent of income can be spent on any given project, with 70 per cent needing to be sourced from other areas. Southwark have previously also given the green light to demolish estates without sufficient social housing in replacement developments.
The number of lets in Southwark has reduced from “1,684 lets in 2014/15 compared to 1,037 lets in 2019/2020. Therefore resulting in residents occupying temporary accommodation for longer periods”.
Council’s are legally obliged to house certain people and households, and if they lack housing stock are forced to use private providers. This is often expensive, and for those in need can mean moving way out from their current homes and support networks.
In the past four years Lewisham have had to spend £109 million on accommodation. Greenwich regularly need to find millions for rising costs, as this section of a February 2021 report shows:
Further out and Bexley face the same pressures, which is a factor in their current financial problems. I’ve just covered how Bexley are bottom of all London boroughs for new social housing in the latest full year figures.
Private landlords are doing well out of the shortage, as the Southwark report states:
“The payment of incentives will need to continue to be paid to Private Sector landlords through the existing framework, which is assumed will remain as is. The average cost of the incentive payments per property is £3,000, which is a recurring cost to the authority every three years.”