Agenda item

Reduction in Bed and Breakfast Use

This report informs the Committee of the measures the Housing Service has taken to bring about a reduction in the use of Bed and Breakfast as emergency accommodation for homeless households.


The Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report setting out the measures the Housing Service had taken to bring about a reduction in the use of Bed and Breakfast (B&B) as emergency accommodation for homeless households.

The report stated that the number of households in emergency B&B accommodation in Reading stood at 136 on 31 March 2017 but had fallen to 29 by 1 April 2018.  There had been 104 families in B&B in March 2017 mostly in shared accommodation but as at the end of October 2018 there were just 5 families in shared B& B accommodation.

The report stated that the Housing Service had developed a proactive approach to prevention and early intervention, crucially doing as much upstream prevention work as possible and taking a holistic approach to solving homelessness issues.  This included linking households with services that may address other problems they faced and which made it more difficult for them to find accommodation.

As well as working across teams and agencies the service has utilised a number of prevention tools including:

·         A restructure of the service to provide a triage function to capture cases at risk of homelessness at the earliest point.  Putting in place two teams of officers - one focused on single homeless people and one focused on families with both teams developing relevant specialisms that match the profile of clients coming into the service;

·         Negotiating with landlords to retain/not to evict tenants and rectifying areas of contention;

·         Building positive relationships with private sector landlords encouraging them to rehouse homeless households;

·         Continuing to successfully procure properties for the Council’s well-regarded Rent Guarantee Scheme (RGS);

·         Attendance at viewings of properties with clients to support them and persuade landlords to agree a letting;

·         Payment of rent deposits, rent in advance and top ups to secure accommodation where required;

·         Utilising Homes for Reading Ltd (the Council’s Housing Company) properties where rent levels were affordable for homeless households;

·         Working with Homefinder to accommodate households out of borough where  households were happy to move out of area;

·         Working with B&B landlords to move away from nightly paid accommodation and converting units into private sector accommodation through the RGS;

·         Working across relevant Council teams to ensure a collaborative and targeted approach was taken to support families affected by welfare reforms;

·         Making best use of partner accommodation supply and ensuring move-on e.g. refuge, safe houses, commissioned homelessness services, voluntary sector accommodation;

·         Supporting clients to access supported accommodation or support packages which enabled them to sustain their tenancies;

·         Offering money advice and pre-tenancy information sessions to better equip clients to manage their tenancies effectively.

In addition the Council had a programme of building new affordable housing.  A new development of 57 Council homes at Conwy Close (including a mix of 1, 2, 3 and 4 bed homes) was on site and the first units should be available to let by the end of 2018.  28 innovative new modular temporary accommodation units at Lowfield Rd had been developed and had already been let to homeless families.  14 small sites were being progressed to deliver a further 100 units with plans for phase 3 of the programme in development.

The report also set out two case studies, which demonstrated the range of work officers were carrying out to prevent homelessness and to reduce the use of B&B accommodation.

Resolved –     That the reduction in the use of Bed and Breakfast accommodation in line with the Council’s Homelessness Strategy objectives be noted.

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