Cornwall Council spending £40k a day on emergency housing

By Richard Whitehouse - Local Democracy Reporter

23rd Nov 2022 | Local News

Cornwall Council building (Image: Planning Resource)
Cornwall Council building (Image: Planning Resource)

Cornwall Council is spending £40,000 a day on providing emergency accommodation for people who have lost their homes. The shocking figure was revealed at a planning committee meeting where plans Cornwall Council approve plans for housing pods in Penryn car park.

The pods are just one way that the council is trying to cut the amount it is spending on providing accommodation for people by placing them in bed and breakfasts or in budget hotels such as Premier Inn or Travelodges.

Councillors were told today that there are currently 737 households that are in emergency accommodation which includes 335 single people. The total number had increased by 37 in less than a month.

The council has stated that there is a housing crisis that has gotten even worse during and since the Covid-19 pandemic. A number of landlords have decided to stop renting their properties to either sell them or convert them into holiday homes.

There has also been a lack of rental properties available and the cost of homes has continued to rise to place them out of reach of many.

In total, around 1,400 people in Cornwall are in temporary emergency accommodation which also usually means that they have to move out of the area where they were previously living. The committee heard that the council could lose £ 7.88 million this year due to the cost of providing emergency accommodation.

To try and ease the problem Cornwall Council is currently trying to place housing units on its own land. Whilst these were originally thought to be a temporary measure the council is now considering them as permanent schemes.

It has also placed some at New County Hall and Old County Hall in Truro and is currently in the process of planning more in Penzance, Newquay, and Camborne. The council believes it could need 350 to 450 such units located across Cornwall.

Olly Monk, the council's Cabinet member for housing, said: "With one small scheme we can really address the number of people having to be put into temporary emergency accommodation. We need to do this quickly.

"We need to reduce the terrible situation where people find themselves having to move all over the county into Premier Inns and Travelodges."

The Conservative councillor added: "We believe we will need 350 to 450 modular units across Cornwall to help keep people closer to where they want to live. Families have to move great distances simply to get emergency accommodation and that is clearly unacceptable."

Committee member and Labour councillor Kate Ewert said she recognised the "desperate need" for emergency housing. She said that the council needed to get people out of B&Bs and Premier Inns where "they don't even have anywhere to wash their clothes".

Cllr Ewert said that the council needs to "provide homes for people who are not really living with much dignity".

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