A meeting of Lewisham’s Cabinet tonight reveals that the number of households being placed in emergency overnight accommodation has risen from 745 at the start of April 2021 to 784 at the end of July.
The cost of the increase is another £400,000. It was recently revealed that in Lewisham alone, the cost of emergency and temporary housing was £109 million over four years.
In September 2020, the total number of households in temporary housing funded by Lewisham Council was almost 2,500 households.
All councils in London expect an increase as a temporary eviction ban introduced in the early days of the pandemic was lifted earlier this year.
Next door in Greenwich and households in temporary accommodation (not just overnight accommodation) reached a new high at 1,528 in July.
That number has doubled since 2017/18, though is a thousands less than Lewisham which suggest further increases are likely.
Despite that, Greenwich Council have just approved an estate rebuild which sees council homes reduced from 500 to 167. That is part of a larger three-estate project which sees a reduction from almost 1,000 to 368.
The Mayor of London recently announced he would allocate money from government and decided 43 per cent would not go towards social housing.
He is also supporting a policy to buy existing homes off the market at higher cost than building truly affordable new homes.
Just this week TfL’s Finance Committee contained a report on housing at TfL land. Government are refusing to help assist with funding, and so out of a possible 50,000 homes, just 20,000 will be built.
That shortage then ensures more households are placed in emergency housing such as bed and breakfasts or hotels at high cost.
The Treasury’s failure to support new housebuilding at truly affordable levels doesn’t save the taxpayer money given ever rising costs to councils and other means of support, but simply ensures more flows towards private landlords.
Almost £10 billion per year is now spent on housing benefit for those in private rented accommodation.
Lewisham’s report states that another £1.5 million is to be spent with private landlords:
“Pressures are continuing to be monitored within the service regarding incentive payments to landlords of circa £1.5m for which there is no budget”.