Millions of pounds were spent on temporary housing for the homeless in County Durham in the year to March.

Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) show £3,753,000 was spent on temporarily housing the homeless in County Durham in the year to March. Of this, £969,000 was covered by the council with government grants funding the remaining spend. 

The high costs come as local authorities deal with increased demand from residents who are in need due to rising rents, no-fault eviction notices and a short supply of affordable properties. The shortage of social housing and unaffordable private rents means residents are forced to look elsewhere, often relocating their families and livelihoods. 

A total of £1,935,000 was spent on bed and breakfasts – the most of any type of temporary accommodation in the area - and was funded through the council’s housing benefit income and other finances. 

Durham County Council has also been forced into using private lets, hotels and holiday lets - but housing officers have warned it's proving costly. 

The local authority says it is “heavily reliant” upon the private sector to provide temporary accommodation for applicants who are homeless while their applications are being assessed or are waiting for alternative housing to become available. 

Lynn Hall, housing solutions manager, said: “In the last year, we have seen an increase in both the number of households needing to access temporary accommodation and the cost associated with using private rented accommodation, specifically the use of bed and breakfast, as the impact of the higher cost of living has made rents, mortgages, and energy costs more expensive.

Recommended reading: 

Work is now ongoing to acquire 20 properties in the private sector which will be used to provide temporary accommodation and allow for a more suitable and cost effective alternative to the existing provision. 

A multi-million pound bid has been submitted to a government scheme to help provide an additional 32 bed spaces in the region alongside support to help people manage and maintain a tenancy. The Bishop Auckland Registry Office has been identified for use and would house a five bedroom unit for single females aged 18 to 25.

Across England, £1.7 billion was spent on temporary accommodation in 2022-23. Figures from the end of March show more than 104,000 households were living in temporary accommodation across England. Nearly two-thirds of these households were families with children.