Skryocketing rents in London are piling pressure on Luton’s housing stock and adding to the workload for local services, according to a recent report.
Luton Safeguarding Children Board’s chairman Fran Pearson presented her annual report to Luton Borough Council’s health and wellbeing board last Thursday.
The report shed further light on the housing crisis that has gripped hold of Luton. It claims additional pressures are being placed on vulnerable families and the services they depend on as a direct result.
The report stated: “In 2015-16, Luton faced a new level of demand for its housing and from a new direction.
“London councils, unable to afford to house families at London prices, began to buy and rent as much available property in Luton as they could.
“Some of these families moved in with child protection histories that it was vital for Luton children’s services to know about, and which in turn created a demand for assessment and ongoing support.
“One London borough rented an entire block of former offices and placed families with young children there temporarily.”
According to the report, one of the consequences was that families from Luton who needed housing were placed in areas far outside the town, such as Milton Keynes.
The report added: “[This is] causing them real difficulties in getting their children to school and in retaining links and support in their community.
“Stress on families is of natural concern to a safeguarding children board.”
Lack of accommodation for homeless Luton families has been well-reported in the media in recent years.
The Herald & Post broke the story in July 2015 of disabled mum Janet Paddison and her partner Rhys, who were placed in a room at the Travel Lodge at Toddington Services Station.
Situated there along with other families, the couple claimed they were told by Luton Borough Council that no other accommodation was available for them.
But other stories have provoked less sympathy.
A high profile story involving a family of ten from Luton placed in a four-bedroom property in Milton Keynes hit the headlines last year, when dad of the family Arnold Mgballe Sube complained the home was “too cramped” as it lacked a dining room.
Despite a media furore, the family –who had moved to Luton from France for Mr Sube’s studies – were eventually moved to another £425,000 home in Milton Keynes said to have met their needs with rent paid by Luton Borough Council.