Homelessness costs ‘community service’ – The Voice

South Holland District Council has paid nearly £360,000 over 12 months to keep homeless people off the streets.

In the most recent data available, in the 12 months to May 2022, a total of £358,715 was paid for 493 guest rooms for those who would otherwise sleep rough in the district.

Of this figure, 69%, £248,069.02 was provided to people staying at the Anglia Motel in Fleet.

A recent inquest into a man’s death said being placed in a room with few facilities and “relatively isolated” contributed to his death, which the motel and council said was unfair.

Motel owner Harold Payne said the council chooses which rooms to pay for.

He also said that for the money the family business received, they only thought it equated to £770 profit per week across all 30 rooms.

“The government said the council should do it and we are the only ones available to host them,” he said. “They’re ringing the bell at 8pm, 10pm, even 2am in the middle of the night saying ‘Can you take this person away’ and we’re here to do it.

“We are doing a service to the community as far as I am concerned. It’s either that they come to see us, or that they are in the street.

“It was also vital for the company during the confinement. I was about £1m less on revenue so I don’t know where we would be without that council money.

South Holland District Council says it uses a number of providers, but Motel Anglia is the main one,

A spokesperson said this was due to the different types of rooms it has, its open booking policy and its value for money.

Its location on the A17 being on the 505 bus route and being close to Holbeach was also a reason and because of its staff.

“The motel staff understands very well the wide variety of circumstances our guests find themselves in and have consistently exceeded the expectations of a lodging provider in the level of support provided,” the spokesperson continued. “Homeless accommodation is funded from the council’s core budget.

“Although the council receives central government grants for homelessness, this cannot be used to pay for temporary accommodation.

“Over the past 12 months the council has committed £1.5million to providing accommodation for single homeless households, of which £675,000 came from grants which the council successfully bid for.

“Other opportunities are regularly explored to raise additional funds to help find suitable housing solutions for our clients.”

Councilor Christine Lawton, housing portfolio holder for South Holland District Council, said: “I am very proud of this council’s record in helping some of society’s most vulnerable members access temporary housing.

“Even if there is only one person without safe accommodation who has to sleep rough tonight, that is one too many.

“We are committed to ending the street in this neighborhood and through the investment the council has made, we intend to see that commitment become a reality.”

Jill E. Washington