Urgent steps to provide homeless people and those sleeping rough with accommodation is being taken by Adur & Worthing Councils as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted.
The Councils have worked effectively over the last few years to tackle homelessness, working with partners to adopt a proactive and preventive approach. Like other areas, Covid-19 has placed unprecedented pressure on homelessness.
Following the government directive around homelessness and rough sleeping during the lockdown, the Councils have worked swiftly with landlords and hotel owners to provide accommodation. But with lockdown measures now being lifted and the imminent reopening of the hospitality industry, one of the local hotels used to accommodate people is no longer able to work with the Councils due to an insurance issue.
The Councils’ teams and partners are now working with all individuals affected to ensure that it meets its housing duties and provides support to those that have been accommodated.
Under normal homelessness laws, the Councils have a duty to home four of these and is now assessing up to 20 others. While the government lockdown directive insisted everyone was found a place to stay, funding for the scheme was inadequate covering just three days of accommodation and forcing the Council to spend an extra £20,000 a week for three months.
Latest figures estimate Worthing Borough Council’s overall budgetary loss under lockdown is approximately £1.5 million.
Cllr Daniel Humphreys, Leader of Worthing Borough Council, said: “Following the directive from the government in March, we acted quickly to ensure all those who needed support were accommodated during the pandemic. A key part of this has been securing a local hotel, which has allowed us to offer direct support to vulnerable people during an extremely stressful and uncertain time for all and we are incredibly grateful for the support of this hotel during these times
“As part of the government’s move to open up the hospitality industry on 4th July, this hotel has been informed by their insurance underwriter that this agreement can no longer continue. We are now doing everything we can to support all of those who have been accommodated in the hotel over the coming week.”
Cllr Humphreys also called on the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to recognise the costs borne by councils such as Worthing during the lockdown.
He said: ”We completely understand the reasoning behind the directive to ensure everyone had a roof over their heads during the lockdown and here in Worthing we responded magnificently, ‘ he said, The Government must recognise that now lockdown is easing we have been left with a significant hole in our budget and an ongoing problem with those we have housed above and beyond our statutory, and funded, duty which continues to put an even greater strain on council finances.”