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West Suffolk: St Edmundsbury’s housing services bill shoots-up by £4million in four years

PUBLISHED: 16:17 12 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:17 12 August 2014

Archant

The taxpayers’ bill for delivering housing services for one west Suffolk council has shot up by £4million in the past four years, the EADT can reveal.

The cost of delivering housing services for St Edmundsbury Borough Council has seen the dramatic rise since 2010 as pressure builds on the council’s social housing system.

Homelessness applications in the borough quadrupled in the same time period, while the number of people on the council’s social housing waiting list for one and two-bedroom homes passed the 2,500-mark for the first time in June.

The rise can be traced to the increase in housing benefit claimed in the borough, which is paid by the Government and administered by St Edmundsbury. Anne Gower, St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: ”We know that good housing underpins the local economy, health and educational attainment, and we are securing long-term gains by making it a strategic priority for West Suffolk.”

St Edmundsbury’s total bill for the 2013/14 financial year was £31.6m, of which £29.8m came from the Government.

As well as managing housing benefit, housing duties for the borough range from finding homes for people in housing need, preventing homelessness and helping people to stay in their homes if they are disabled.

Homelessness-related costs, such as accommodation and rent deposits, were £330,000, including around £215,000 on emergency bed and breakfast accomodation – six times more than the council’s outlay two years ago.

Disabled Facilities Grant payments were around £700,000, while other costs include working with partners to build new homes, bringing empty properties into use and securing tenancies.

It is a similar story in Forest Heath, where the council’s income from housing benefit has increased by £2.1m over four years. The expenditure has risen by £1.5m

Both councils are consulting on a new housing strategy for west Suffolk, which includes building council houses for the first time in a decade in a bid to meet demand.

The consultation closes tomorrow. For more information visit www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk

St Edmundsbury housing services

Expenditure

2013/14 - £31.6m

2012/13 - £30.7m

2011/12 - £29.1m

2010/11 - £27.8m

Income

2013/14 - £29.8m

2012/13 - £29.5m

2011/12 - £27.5m

2010/11 - £26m

Forest Heath housing services

Expenditure

2013/14 - £18.2m

2012/13 - £18.9m

2011/12 - £17.4m

2010/11 - £16.7m

Income

2013/14 - £17m

2012/13 - £16.9m

2011/12 - £15.8m

2010/11 - £14.9m

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