Kettering’s homelessness budget set to double

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A scheme aimed at reducing homelessness by buying homes in Kettering will benefit from an extra £2.25m this year.

Kettering Council is set to approve doubling its capital budget for housing and homelessness to £4.5m for 2018/19.

With about 200 people on the council’s homeless list, cabinet member for housing Cllr Mark Rowley says it’s important the authority continues to tackle the problem.

He said: “We are absolutely concerned about it [the level of homelessness] and it’s higher than we would like it to be, but most of it is out of our hands with private landlords.”

The council had agreed to split the £4.5m allocated so £2.25m would be used in both 2018/19 and 2019/20.

It has already committed to buying 13 properties in the first three months of the year with a total of 39 bedrooms, meaning there is not much of this year’s budget left.

But by bringing forward the £2.25m earmarked for 2019/20, the council can continue to acquire properties for temporary accommodation.

Acquiring homes saves the council money as by strengthening the authority’s balance sheet as, instead of paying others to provide temporary accommodation, the council is providing the service directly.

For 2018/19 the current projection for homelessness indicates a potential £300,000 overspend, which would have been significantly higher had the council continued to rely solely or mostly on bed and breakfast and nightly paid accommodation.

Cllr Rowley said: “What we are doing is bringing forward the 2019 capital budget to this year so we can carry on what we’re doing.

“It will effectively speed things up this year.

“If it’s a roaring success we may well decide as a council to put £2.5m in again next year.”

A report set to be discussed by councillors tonight (Wednesday) admits the level of families presenting as homeless is “relentless”.

Cllr Rowley added that the planned amendment was welcomed by opposition councillors.

A decision will be taken tonight at Kettering’s full council meeting in the council chamber.