One thousand two hundred and thirty five children in 2,941 families were living in temporary or emergency accommodation at the end of financial year 2015/16, placed there by Barnet Council, according to recent figures obtained by Labour councillors.
The number of families living in temporary accommodation has increased from 2,758 - the previous year's out turn - and the housing needs budget has ballooned from £3.954m to £5.772m because of the rising cost of temporary accommodation. Additional funding of £584k from the Council and a grant from DCLG [Department for Communities and Local Government] was required to help reduce the overall costs.
The most recent Barnet Homes performance report states that: "High demand for homelessness services and in particular the increasing reliance on General Fund temporary accommodation has exposed the Council to a greater risk of cost inflation in relation to the cost of accommodation. Demand for temporary accommodation and inflationary pressures are being monitored closely but both continue to increase, albeit steadily. A range of mitigations have been agreed with the Council, with the principle aims of maximising prevention, managing demand, and increasing affordable supply, to help manage demand."
Labour councillors point out that the Conservative council administration continues to fail on delivery of new affordable homes, with only 18 per cent of all new homes in the last year secured in the 'affordable' categories set by government against a local target of 40 per cent.
Barnet's Conservative housing boss, Cllr Tom Davey, and the Leader of the Council, Cllr Cornelius have also recently admitted "that affordable housing may not be affordable enough for some people" following a recent outburst in a Council question by Conservative Deputy Mayor, Cllr Sury Khatri in which he said of 'affordable housing' "Everyone sane person knows that this is patently not the case, especially for the residents of Mill Hill, if I may so say Barnet too, and their children etc. This is pure and simple insulting residents’ intelligence. Why do we persist in peddling this line ?".
Labour's Deputy Leader and Housing Spokesperson, Cllr Ross Houston said: "I asked how many children Cllr Davey believes is an acceptable number to live in temporary accommodation, his answer was that we needed to do as much as possible. However Barnet are badly failing their own targets for affordable housing. We need to do far better than this!"
1. The information on the number of families and children in temporary accommodation can be found in question 52 of the July Full Council questions to the Leader:
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568