Wycombe Labour called on Wycombe District Council to deliver its promises to help homeless families.
Three years ago WDC published its Homelessness Strategy for 2014-9. WDC promised
- not to use B&Bs for homeless families except in emergencies and then only for 1 week; and
- not to use a B&B outside Wycombe; it would use registered B&B providers in Wycombe.
Wycombe Labour gave a muted welcome to the Homelessness Strategy - muted because we had seen promise after promise from WDC in the past but little action. We thought then that it was scandalous that Wycombe had no registered B&B provider and homeless families were sent to Slough.
Councillor Rafiq Raja, Leader of the Labour Group on Wycombe Council, said, " �WDC are still breaking its promises. It is using B&Bs and not just for emergencies and not just for one week. Families are being offered B&Bs when there is time to arrange other accommodation and for 6 weeks or more. WDC is also offering families temporary accommodation in Slough, Hemel Hempstead and Oxford with no alternatives.
There are now over 70 families in temporary accommodation and a further 1,500 on the waiting list for social housing.
This is a national problem, caused by the policies of the Tory Government who are driving poorer families out of London and forcing the sale of more and more social housing.
But it is also caused by WDC who transferred virtually all its 6000 social homes to Red Kite in 2011, a month after it published its Homelessness Strategy Not a penny of the £20 million or so it got for the sale has been spent on social or affordable housing which it promised the tenants.
The situation will get worse in April when the benefit cap is cut again and private rented accommodation becomes even less affordable for poorer families. �
Mary is the mother of one of the families affected by the lack of affordable housing. She lives in private rented accommodation in Wycombe with her daughter who is in her GCSE year at a local school. Mary�s landlady has served Mary with an eviction notice and Mary cannot find any alternative accommodation which she can afford.
WDC has offered her accommodation in Slough or Hemel or Oxford and Mary has been told this will probably be for at least 6 weeks. WDC has said that Mary will just have to pull her daughter out of school. Mary was a care worker but, when she told her employer that she might be homeless, she got the sack as she was seen as unreliable. Mary�s father lives in
Wycombe and is reliant on Mary�s support. Mary has no car.
Mary�s health is suffering due to the stress.