A 20 month delay in purchasing temporary accommodation units for homeless individuals and families has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds due to ‘posturing’ from Mayor Dave Hodgson, according to Conservative Cllr Stephen Moon.
In February 2018, Cllr Moon proposed at Bedford Borough Council’s annual budget meeting that the authority allocate £2m in the first instance for an ‘invest to save’ project to purchase and provide its own temporary accommodation for those in need of urgent housing.
This would have reduced the reliance on units owned by private landlords, saving the Council up to £200k a year. Since then demand for temporary accommodation has continued to rise, resulting in a £500k increase in Council spending in 2019/20.
After voting down Cllr Moon’s proposal, the Liberal Democrat and Labour administration will finally commit £10m to buy temporary accommodation units over the next three years, including £3m in 2019/20. In response, Cllr Moon said:
‘I am of course pleased with Mayor Hodgson’s u-turn on our proposal for the Council to purchase temporary accommodation units. The substantial £10m sum now allocated to the project confirms, as I originally stated, that there will be significant savings further down the line.
‘Sadly, his political games have led him, not for the first time, to reject proposals we make only later to adopt them and claim them as his own. This time the delay caused by his posturing has wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds for taxpayers in payments to private landlords and prevented the Council from sourcing and providing suitable temporary housing for individuals and families. It is a complete shambles and a failure of leadership; he should respond to local needs and not play party political games.’