Council considers ‘shipping container’ accommodation for homeless to tackle B&Bs surge

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 August 2018

Welwyn Hatfield Council is considering using shipping container-style temporary accommodation Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Kenneth Taylor.

Welwyn Hatfield Council is considering using shipping container-style temporary accommodation Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Kenneth Taylor.

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Welwyn Hatfield Council is considering “shipping container-style temporary accommodation” for homeless people amid a rise in the use of bed and breakfasts.

WHC has spent £48k on temporary accommodation between April and July this year, and in a report to be given to Cabinet next week, officers wrote that the rise in households being placed in B&Bs is particularly concerning.

They said: “It is very challenging for the households concerned and is also resource intensive, as the process for booking and payment is long winded and the degree of contact with the customer is intensified.”

An officer project team is considering several alternatives to B&B usage, the report says, among which are “pods or shipping container-style temporary accommodation on vacant sites”.

“These are becoming more widely used by councils and housing associations,” officers noted.

A WHC spokeswoman said it is in the early stages of looking at all potential models that could be used as temporary accommodation alternatives.

The number of local households forced to live in temporary accommodation has consistently risen between June last year (68) and the same month this year (113), according to the report.

The increase has come after new legislation came into force this year, which extends the council’s duties and places greater emphasis on acting quickly to prevent homelessness.

Officers said that since its implementation, there has been a “significant increase” in B&B usage, rising from an average of just over two per month in 2017/18, to around 11 between April and July this year.

They wrote: “The reasons for the growth in numbers is mainly due to the lack of move-on accommodation, which has meant that the average time spent in temporary accommodation has increased from around 15 weeks last year to between eight to 12 months over the past six months.

“Again this presents significant challenges to the team, as households become very dissatisfied with their circumstances.”

Other methods being considered to tackle the problem include using empty council-owned properties earmarked for redevelopment in the interim, along with increasing the capacity at Howlands House.

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