THE NUMBER of people living in bed and breakfast accommodation in Monmouthshire is at its lowest level since 2020, the council’s leader has said.
Councillor Mary Ann Brocklesby didn’t provide any figures but told the council’s evening cabinet meeting on Wednesday, November 8 she was “heartened” by the figures she had been presented with half an hour before its 5pm start.
She was responding to a question from Conservative opposition leader Cllr Richard John who asked what representations the Labour-led authority is making to the Welsh Government having said it is failing to fully fund the requirements placed on councils to house homeless people and provide every primary pupil with a free school meal.
Llanelly Hill Labour member Cllr Brocklesby said: “We are seeing the lowest number in bed and breakfast accommodation since 2020, a downward trend in the numbers presenting as homeless and an upward trend in our ability to deal with them in a timely manner.”
At the end of 2019, Monmouthshire council had 15 households in temporary accommodation and no households in bed and breakfast accommodation.
But a report issued in 2022 said that in December 2021, following changes in government guidance, this had risen to 92 households, including 12 families in bed and breakfasts.
In April this year it was reported to the cabinet there were 87 households in Monmouthshire living in B&Bs.
Cllr Brocklesby warned the factors that drive homelessness are out of the council’s control and said: “I can’t predict what the figures will be over the winter but it is a particularly good news story.”
The budget update for the cabinet has shown that figures from the end of August predict the council will be £124,000 short of the amount it needs to cover all its costs this financial year.
But that has been achived by using £2.5m from reserves and attempting to slash in-year spending by £2.6m, though only £2.1m has been realised. A report to go before next week’s cabinet meeting has outlined the council faces a £14.4m shortfall in required funding for the 2023/24 financial year.
The report has highlighted as well as inflation and increased demand on social care the council is struggling to meet its costs this year as the Welsh Government hasn’t fully funded its requirements that councils offer accommodation to all homeless people and the universal free school meals initiative.
Cllr Ben Callard, who is the cabinet member responsible for finance, said the coucil has had meetings with Welsh Government ministers on the issues.
He said: “We highlighted we are very proud of the quality, cook from scratch ethos we have, especially in primary schools.”