Demand For Temp Accommodation Doubles in Decade

Figures just released by the government underline the terrible impact Conservative policies are having on homelessness in Plymouth with demand for temporary accommodation more than doubling since 2012.

Almost half of the homeless households seeking help from the Council are facing Section 21 (no fault) evictions and increasingly the residents that the council are supporting are in work yet not able to afford local rent levels. 

Between January and March this year alone the council’s teams processed 458 cases.

Councillor Tudor Evans, Labour Leader of Plymouth City Council, said ‘Conservative economic mismanagement government is failing Plymouth residents leading to an increase in local people not being able to find homes that they can afford, ” said Councillor Tudor Evans, the Labour Leader of Plymouth City Council.

“The stresses of the Cost of Living Crisis combined with rising rents and mortgage rates is making it harder for people to support themselves, their extended families and their friends. It’s no wonder that our housing waiting list has gone from 8,000 to 12,500 in the past four years. Here in Plymouth it’s the Council that’s left to pick up the pieces – that’s why we made housing one of the Labour Council’s top five priorities.”

Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: “Every day I receive emails and phone calls from worried constituents who have been made homeless, or are at risk of homelessness – with a rise of Section 21s being served – and the reality of the situation is the number of affordable homes for rent in the city is not sufficient to meet the demand.

“I know from speaking to many people, and from the stories shared with my team, that facing homelessness and navigating through the temporary accommodation process has become much more challenging. It’s time for the Conservative Government to take responsibility for the consequences of its choices and provide the funding necessary to tackle the housing crisis.”

Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Housing said: “We’re in the middle of a national housing crisis and we’re doing our best to combat it. The thing is, we just don’t have anywhere near the amount of accommodation we need to deal with the number of people who are coming to us for help.

‘What we’d like to do is understand what we can do to try to help people before they need emergency accommodation. The earlier people who are facing homelessness come and talk to us and to our partners, the better we can support them to manage their situation and although it is not always possible, in some circumstances we can prevent homelessness in the first place.”

The Council and its partners provide advice to inform people of their legal rights to prevent people from becoming homeless. They also support people who are threatened with homelessness by mediating with landlords or by supporting them to find alternative accommodation wherever possible.

Every case is different; sometimes people are signposted to other services for debt advice or for maximising benefit entitlements. Sometimes it will involve advising people on affordability, linking them in with health services or arranging foodbank vouchers. When the worst happens the Council steps in to provide emergency and temporary accommodation.

Fred Thomas, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for the Plymouth Moor View constituency, said: “When I talk to local people I repeatedly hear about the impact of the Cost of Living Crisis. More and more of them are telling me that they are worried that they will end up losing their homes. The statistics that have been published are shocking – and behind each are the lives of ordinary Plymouth people. We are living through a Tory mortgage bombshell. Unless the government pulls its finger out and changes tack this current crisis is going to get considerably worse.”

Councillor Chris Penberthy added: “There is no doubt the figures are bleak, but we are working flat out, to our maximum capacity in terms of staffing and financially, to deal with the issues people are facing.

“The Council and its partners set up the Plymouth Alliance so that local organisations and charities can work together as one to help people when they most need it. A previous Labour administration developed a plan of action to prevent homelessness wherever possible, develop more temporary accommodation and develop more affordable housing After two years of local Tory rule we are having to step in to do more and, once again, give housing the priority it needs.

‘But we need help from the government. We need a national strategy and we need more funding, not just in the immediate but in the long-term. We also need an immediate rise to the local housing allowance which is far below the market rent value and is pricing so many people in need of housing out of the market. I am pleased that the Labour Party is proposing to accelerate council house building when it takes power – but we can’t wait until then.

“As Plymouth Labour we want to campaign for changes to Tory policy. We need your help. If you, or someone you know, has been in temporary accommodation or are currently placed in a hotel room or B&B, and are happy for your story to be shared, please contact Luke’s team on [email protected] and/or Councillor Chris Penberthy on [email protected] – we want to share these stories with Government Ministers, to ensure this is at the top of the agenda for this Government.”