Spending on B&Bs housing homeless people in Gosport is up by £40,000

Protest organiser Rachel Follett (centre front) with fellow local residents 

Pictures: Duncan Shepherd (171649_010)

Homes ‘could destroy our little village’

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THE cost of housing homeless families in Gosport in bed and breakfast establishments has increased by nearly £40,000 in the past three years.

Spending has increased from £81,000 in 2011/12 to an estimated £120,000 in 2013/14, according to figures from Gosport Borough Council. In 2012/13 the bill was £107,000.

It comes after the borough authority opened the 55-home Agnew House Family Centre, in Mill Lane, in July 2012.

It had hoped the £1.2m hostel would cut B&B costs.

Conservative Councillor Graham Burgess, chairman of the community board, said Barclay House, the council’s other homeless accommodation, is part-shut for a refurb.

Some of the 23-unit centre was closed last year and the other half is shut for works.

Cllr Burgess said: ‘It has increased but while we’ve been doing Barclay House we haven’t been able to use it.

‘I took the decision to spend the money to refit Barclay House so the residents of Gosport won’t be lumbered with high bills.

‘We’re hoping homelessness has passed its peak as the economy turns round.’

Cllr Burgess hopes to build new council homes.

The council loses around £200 a week on B&Bs. They provide no cooking facilities for families in them and it is difficult to support occupants.

The council works with private landlords, who, along with the hostels, work on a break-even basis.

In 2011/12, 56 families moved into the hostels, with 180 in 12/13 and 166 in 13/14.

And 223 households moved into private lets in 2011/12, 205 in 12/13 and 126 in 13/14, as of December 31, 2013.

On average at any one time there were seven households in B&Bs in 11/12, which went up to nine in 12/13 and 13/14.

Cllr Peter Chegwyn leads the Lib Dem opposition.

He said: ‘Agnew House is full to overflowing. It shows the extent of the housing problem in Gosport and the number of homeless people.

‘There’s not enough social housing to meet the demand.’

He wants to see empty homes available more quickly.

Cllr Jill Wright is the opposition Labour group’s housing spokeswoman.

She said: ‘With the current economic climate there are a lot of people who have become homeless. They can’t afford their houses because of the unemployment situation.’