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Hundreds Of Thousands Spent By Council On Town's Homeless People

Monday September 30 2013

OVER £500,000 is spent every year by Barnsley Council on services specifically for homeless people in the borough.

A Freedom of Information request shows the council commits £533,897, with money being spent on 42 units of accomodation-based support for single homeless people, 17 units for young single homeless people (aged 16-24) and 14 units for homeless families.

The FOI also shows the council received £66,500 in July 2009 to be used as a repossession prevention fund to allow it to extend small interest free loans to households at risk of homelessness through repossession or eviction.

The funding can be used to help owner occupiers, social and private sector tenants and rough sleepers.

However, in the FOI response Wendy Lowder, the council's assistant executive director for neighbourhoods, access and support, said it should avoid the 'moral hazard' of providing loans to households who could have paid their mortgage, loan or rent but chose not to.

"The guidance states the process on decisions on grant assistance to households will need to be robust and seek to support those households who genuinely cannot pay their household costs through no fault of their own," she states.

The FOI also revealed the council received a further £57,000 in February 2012 and was used to support the costs of the ongoing extension of three homelessness advisor posts.

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Reply Posted by Aidan on Monday September 30 2013 at 17:50
that's lovely to see.

Reply Posted by Tom on Monday September 30 2013 at 17:56
The council spends half a million pounds renting 73 units of accommodation for homeless people?
I was recently speaking to homeless people in Barnsley and they lamented the lack of services and help in Barnsley, and told me how they had to go to Sheffield to access services and gain a bed for the night.
They said, some of the temporary and poor quality accommodation they were put in cost hundreds of pounds per week..
£500 000 between 73 units of accommodation is £6850 per year, some £131 per week.

Whilst there is a need for temporary accommodation, it seems very expensive in Barnsley, when you consider that private sector and council accommodation can be rented long term for £60-100 and £65-80 per week, respectively.
Supposing the council built 3 bedroom council houses on council land and granted itself permission to do so for nothing, it could easily fund the building of 500 council houses in a year for the above £500k (£1k pa debt per unit servicing costs taking into account current low interest rates and RICS build costs).

The council homes would generate some £3k-4k per year in rent, this would more than cover debt servicing costs, and the wages of housing staff (rent collectors, housing benefit advisors, maintenance contractors, and a vast amount of management and large salaries for CEOs etc. If done right (restricted management/CEO salaries), it could generate profit for the council, which could be used to improve living conditions/lower taxes for Barnsley people.

Instead of renting 73 units for half a million, the council could build 500 and make a profit, and in turn own outright the houses in some 25 years, increasing profit.

So we could waste half a million renting property from landlords.

Or invest it, in a way which would instantly improve living conditions for many, and subsequently lead to profit for the council, which could be used to increase living standards of all.

Instead, the council seeks to evict tenants due to the bedroom tax, at vast cost to the taxpayer, then rehouse them in more expensive accommodation, on top of this it will be giving free money to private landlords so they can bring their properties up to standard, so they can be filled with the increasing standing army of quasi-employed workers and generate private profit at public expense via the housing benefit system.

This is while the national government actively forces rents to increase above inflation in the so called social sector, and launches the much lamented Help to Buy mortgage subsidy scheme which is really just a cash subsidy for banks and large scale property owners who seek to dispose of their property holdings.

Large hedge fund organisations are now snapping up property in the region in anticipation of price rises due to the government subsidy, intending to sell them on and pocket the profit resulting from the subsidy, impoverishing local people, in particular the first time buyers, the policy purports to help!

People of Barnsley (and the rest of the UK) are about to be taken back to the Victorian age, as their living standards are massively reduced, in particular the quality of housing available to them, with increased costs for this poorer quality housing.

And most worryingly of all, instead of people (the public) campaigning for better housing, we have elderly home owners who are known as NIMBYs actively protesting against new housing (whilst having benefited from house building themselves in their youth), and an increasing generation of workers lamenting their position in the housing market, sharing houses and getting angry at people who have lived in council housing for multiple decades. When but a decade ago, to live in a council house had a stigma.

Ask yourself this, how bad is the housing situation in the country, if so called skilled workers now envy people in council houses, when but 10 years ago, people on minimum wage could purchase a house, and people in council houses were looked down upon, and that is before you take into account that council house rents have risen well above inflation every year for the past 10 years and a little bit longer.

Whilst a Chinese man can choose from plenty of jobs, accept a wage 4 times lower than ours, and afford better housing with a lower proportion of his wage, divert a third of his wage to savings, and in terms of beer he earns 5 pints per hour, whilst we earn but 2.

I tell you now, wages aren't too low, to the contrary, it is the cost living due to the cost of renting/buying land and property that's too high.

And the government has the audacity to preach about free-markets, whilst ensuring price floors for land and property via various large scale and widespread subsidies, benefits, planning restrictions and rent controls which set rents above their true markets value.

Planning permission once granted to a £400 plot of land can increase it's value artificially to some £26000-£100 000.

People who own land get paid some £150/hectare per year in agricultural subsidy, they need not produce any food and are paid based upon the amount of land they own (they can subsequently rent the land out to tenant farmers for additional profit, and some even use it to grow food at profit). Ian Duncan Smith's family has received over £1million in the past decade for owning some 20 000 acres, he then introduces policies that are reducing people's £3000 annual dole and forcing them to work for it below minimum wage, yet his families £100 000+ annual landowner benefits are not affected £25k benefit cap!

Housing benefit supports minimum rents and transfers money from taxpayers to rentiers (landlords).

SMI ensures mortgages remain paid and do not default, in some cases, for life. This transfers money from taxpayer to rentiers (banks who for all intents once in receipt of SMI are landlords).
It also reduces the amount of properties that are forced to sell and this reduces downward pressure on housing costs. It also ensures bank balance sheets remain healthy.

Above inflation rent rises for target rents;- Artificial rent controls that are used to force them up above their free-market value.

There are even more subsidies that I have not time to list.

Homelessness continues to rise, housing standards fall and housing costs rise.
This should be of no surprise, for we can see the market is manipulated.

We could build council housing, improve living standards and generate communal profits for the so called communal organisation that is the council.
We could also allow people to build their own housing, by freeing up land with planning permission, charging £400 for the land instead of £26000 and ensuring everybody has a right to build.

But we do not, for our politicians are bought and paid for by the vested interest, many of them are landlords themselves, the vested interests control the market, and we all suffer, except for those with vested interests who are using their influence to control the market in their favour.

Reply Posted by Stevo on Monday September 30 2013 at 18:09
Chuffing hell Tom, I thought I went on!

Most of it I agree too.

Ian Duncan Smith's real name is George Smith by the way, he changed it to IDS as plain old George Smith didn't sound Tory enough.

Reply Posted by Swifty on Monday September 30 2013 at 21:50
Tom congratulations what a post. The 16 bedroom unit at Highfield Grange Resource Centre Wombwell . This building is due to be flattened in the next few days. Why did the council not use this building for the homeless. It would have paid for its self.

Shame on you BMBC and the Local councillors for doing nothing.

Reply Posted by rainbow on Tuesday October 1 2013 at 13:48
Town centre full of empty council offices, old Coop buildings etc, get these converted instead of standing there unused.?

Reply Posted by anon on Sunday October 6 2013 at 21:13
re ; homeless. Barnsley council is and has been run by labour 4 god knows how long. shutting services for years. opening centres 4 foreign nationals rather than our own.right or wrong ?

Reply Posted by steve on Thursday December 4 2014 at 10:59
was just wondering if you were still around tom...if you see this let.me no...looking back to what you wrote about we are about to go into the victorian ages again then well...a little over 12months later...here we are...evictions including revenge evictions are rife...homlessness is at an all time high climbing everyday...no signs of anything happening to combat it...and yes this is mainly london areas as such but still...it happens elsewhere even here...were right with pretty much everyword you wrote...sadly :-(

ipso Regulated