Northampton Borough Council has come under fire for missing two deadlines for providing information to the Government about homelessness in the town.
The Conservative-run Council has failed to provide information to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about the numbers of homeless families in hostels, bed and breakfast hotels and other forms of temporary accommodation. The information is gathered quarterly and the most recent figures were published last Friday.
It’s one of only 23 councils nationwide that’s listed as having failed to provide information or providing information that was incomplete and could not be used. It also failed to provide the information for the previous quarter.
The last recorded figures showed there was a crisis in Northampton. The proportion of families in temporary accommodation was running at more than twice the rate of the national average for local authorities outside of London, and over four times the rate of local authorities in the East Midlands.
Those figure showed there were 305 families in temporary accommodation, including 515 children. Temporary accommodation means people have a roof over their heads, but it may be no more than that. In some cases it may be nightly accommodation only. For children it means the insecurity of facing repeated moves, or nowhere to do their homework. What these families need is a permanent home.
Housing is one of my big passions. Hiding a housing problem – which is what has happened in Northampton – doesn’t make it disappear. The Council should provide the figures and set out how it’s going to meet its statutory duties to house homeless families. The town’s MPs could help get more money from Government to provide the necessary accommodation.
Housing and homelessness are one of the most sensitive issues in Northampton and the council should be keeping track of families who are homeless.