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Hull in a handcart

February 10 2012
Homeless south London families could be asked to move hundreds of miles

 

Homeless families from south London could be asked to move hundreds of miles north, following a surge in demand for temporary accommodation.

Croydon Council is considering sending some of the families it houses in emergency bed and breakfast accommodation to live in Hull and other Yorkshire towns, where rent is cheaper and more homes are thought to be available.

The decision comes as the number of families in such accommodation has risen from 61 in 2008 to 300 today - costing the council £300,000 a month.

The increase in the number of homeless families entitled to council support is thought to be due to reductions in local housing allowance (introduced for new tenants last year and for existing tenants from January), combined with job losses from the financial crisis.

Croyden’s housing crisis is particularly severe because 58 families who lost their homes during last summer’s riots have also had to be placed in emergency accommodation. In 2011, Croyden Council paid for a homeless family to live in St Leonards-on-Sea near Hastings in East Sussex.

Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, finance and asset management, said: “We don’t seem to be able to raise the supply of temporary accommodation. I told officers to look outside Croydon to find housing. We’ll take it from wherever we can.

“A lot of seaside towns are certainly cheaper and have more availability. These moves would be by mutual agreement. Sometimes families are keen to move so everyone’s happy.”

However, charities working with homeless people in Hull were concerned about Croyden Council’s plans. Peter Drinkell, project director of Doorstep Of Hull, which provides temporary accommodation and which handles up to local 200 referrals at any one time, said that homeless services in the north were already stretched, and that London’s problems should not be passed on to Hull.

Drinkell said: “There is no way this plan cannot disadvantage Hull’s homeless people. The number of referrals our organisation receives continues to rise each year. There are people in Hull who wait several months for a property. It is not as though we have spare accommodation to dish out.”

Jad Adams, chairman of Croyden homeless charity Nightwatch, said: “This is a very serious situation.

“Inviting people to move away is far from ideal but I do understand this is the time to take drastic measures.”

Kay Boycott, of charity Shelter, said: “The fact that councils are offering people homes hundreds of miles away is testament to the scale of London’s housing crisis.”

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