Homeless people asked to 'consider' leaving the Banbury area to access affordable homes

Cherwell District Council is “offering to support” homeless households to “consider moving” out of the area due to a lack of affordable housing.

By Andy Mitchell
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 5:04 pm
Cherwell District Council is “offering to support” homeless households to “consider moving” out of the area due to a lack of affordable housing.
Cherwell District Council is “offering to support” homeless households to “consider moving” out of the area due to a lack of affordable housing.

The authority is responsible for helping the homeless and highlighted preventing homelessness as one of its successes in a performance report covering May 2022.

Councillor Richard Mould (Con, Bicester East), Cherwell’s portfolio holder for corporate services, read out an extract on the prevention work being done by the council’s housing team at this week’s meeting of the executive.

However, he did not continue on to the part that involves residents potentially leaving the district due to “long waiting times” for social housing and “the unaffordability” of private rents.

Cllr Mould said: “The housing team continues to focus on trying to reach households before they reach crisis and actually become homeless.

“There has been a campaign to ensure clients, and those supporting them, are given up-to-date and realistic information on the housing challenges in Cherwell so they can fully explore all options prior to imposing statutory homeless duties.”

The part of the report that followed read: “The housing team have been looking at areas outside Cherwell where accommodation is available and affordable, offering to support homeless households to consider moving as a solution to securing long term settled housing given the long waiting times for social housing in this area and the unaffordability of any private rented (accommodation).”

Cherwell monitors 17 performance measures on a monthly basis. Homelessness prevention, included under the strategic priority of “housing that meets your needs”, was described as “slightly behind schedule” for year to date but was deemed as “delivering to plan” in May.

It comes as the council anticipates increased problems with housing in the coming months.

The number of homeless households in temporary accommodation remains within target – there were 28 in May – with “the focus on upstream work to prevent the need” being described as “more successful” but the report carried a stark warning.

“There are some very concerning cases where it appears homelessness is not going to be avoided," it continued.

“Families with particular needs are likely to present over the next few months requiring intensive work to find a long-term housing solution. The trend is still likely to be an increase in the need for temporary accommodation into the summer months.”

One of the two measures marked as red – more than 10 per cent behind target – for May was the average time taken to process new housing benefit claims.

The council says they should be done within 18 days but the current average is 20.45.

Cllr Mould said: “Following on from the increased number of claims received in March and April, we are still seeing the impact of those claims.

"Resource is focused on this area to deal with the additional work and we are continuing to monitor this work area closely."