A Norfolk council is spending more than £100,000 on a property to house the homeless amid fears over government withdrawal from a scheme to support people through the Covid-19 pandemic.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) is set to spend £117,000 on a flat to offer temporary housing to homeless families.
The purchase of the two-bed flat in North Walsham follows two similar acquisitions by the council earlier this year in similar properties.
The council did not reveal the flat’s price but said the alternative would be investing £117,735.
And it follows concern over the government’s continued support of a scheme to house people during the coronavirus crisis.
Reports the government would no longer fund the Everyone In scheme, which saw homeless people put up in hotels to keep them safe from the virus, were published by the Manchester Evening News last week, following a leaked report from Greater Manchester’s combined authority stating that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) had “drawn a line” under the scheme.
In a statement published on its blog, the MHCLG said: “Any suggestion that the government is reneging on the commitment set out at the start of this national emergency is entirely wrong.”
NNDC leader Sarah Butikofer said: “We have to send families out of area as we don’t have family accommodation. It’s not ideal to move children around. We want to keep people safe locally.”
And the Liberal Democrat councillor said she was “very worried” about claims the government could cancel its homelessness funding, but said NNDC had not been told of any withdrawal by the MHCLG.
“Now that we’ve managed to get those people into accommodation, it’s an ideal time to work with them,” she said. “No one becomes homeless because they want to.”
She added: “The last thing I want to be doing is saying to people ‘right, bye then’.
“That’s not helping them at all – it’s not a long-term solution.”
An NNDC report, published ahead of the cabinet meeting on Monday, May 18, stated that officers had been working to buy four properties with an agreed budget of £610,000.
The combined cost of the two purchases earlier this year – a bungalow in North Walsham and a one-bed house in Hempton – and the two-bed flat totals £418,435 – leaving the council a potential further £191,565 to buy a fourth.
By Local Democracy Reporter Service reporter, Jessica Frank-Keyes