Bromley Council is working to mitigate rising homelessness

Published Friday, 29 March 2019

Bromley Council has introduced a range of initiatives to help stem the inexorable rise in households in acute housing need and faced with homelessness.

The council has been working to mitigate these pressures through its Homelessness and Housing Strategies by introducing a number of creative initiatives centred on acquiring cost-effective temporary accommodation, a renewed private sector offer to landlords and work with housing association partners to supply more affordable housing.

The current market situation has led to many serious housing challenges. The impact of welfare reform and the new Homelessness Reduction Act duties as well as shortages of affordable private rented accommodation and a reduction in housing association properties has led to many of the difficulties encountered by residents. The significant and growing bill for temporary accommodation faced by the council is the unavoidable consequence of an imbalance between rising homelessness and shortages in affordable housing.

Among the initiatives introduced by the council to tackle these issues, ‘More Homes Bromley’ has seen Bromley Council enter into a partnership with the Mears Group whereby they purchase properties, refurbish them to decent homes standard and manage them to house Bromley residents in need of temporary accommodation. More than 400 homes have been purchased so far, with this initiative alone saving some £1m since its inception.

Other ideas have seen former disused residential care homes successfully converted into temporary accommodation units. Also, the council’s private sector lettings team has stepped up its activity over the last nine months to assist more than 100 people into affordable private rented homes.

A further 100 homes have been developed over the past year through capital funding to housing association partners, while the council is also progressing schemes to look at the use of Bromley owned land for new affordable housing. In all, the various initiatives have had a significant impact on slowing the rate of growth in temporary accommodation placements by almost half from 20 to 12 a month. Of these the average net increase in expensive nightly rate placements has reduced from 15 to 6. These measures have reduced the pressure on budgets by £676k in 18/19.

As a result of these measures, numbers in temporary accommodation have reduced to 1,568 which means less than was expected will be required from the council’s central contingency fund to cover the costs of rising demand for temporary accommodation. The Executive agreed a drawdown of £2,489k from the council’s central contingency.

Councillor Peter Morgan, Executive Member for Renewal, Recreation and Housing, said: “This work is unrelenting as the numbers of residents becoming, or in danger of becoming, homeless continues to rise throughout London. The housing team in Bromley is working tirelessly to find innovative solutions to this growing problem. As a result of their work, less of the council’s contingency fund will need to be spent to plug the gap. It is fortunate that Bromley has such well-run finances so that this fund exists and also good news that less of it than expected will be needed to cover the costs of temporary accommodation in the borough.