Number of homeless asking Luton council for help has more than doubled in 3 years

“We can't build our way out of this particular issue. There are too many people to house”
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The number of homeless households approaching Luton Borough Council has more than doubled during the past three years, reaching 560 last month, a meeting heard.

This “massive demand” is adding more pressure to the local authority’s stretched resources, its scrutiny finance review group was told during a quarter three revenue and capital budget report for 2023/24.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

LBC’s director of housing Colin Moone explained: “We anticipated about 3,700 homeless households in 2022/23 approaching the council for help. That year we got 5,200, a massive increase.

Luton Town Hall. Picture: Tony MargiocchiLuton Town Hall. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
Luton Town Hall. Picture: Tony Margiocchi

“This year we’ve anticipated 5,200 and we’re getting around 5,700 approaching us. Demand has gone through the roof. After Covid and eviction bans were lifted, numbers have soared.

“When I arrived in 2020/21, we had about 200 households a month approaching us as homeless. Now we’re getting 470 odd every month. Last month, it was 560. The demand in Luton is massive.

“At the end of quarter two, we were about £3.5m overspent, which rose to £4.18m at the end of quarter three on our temporary accommodation budget because the homeless demand is just phenomenal.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We’ve got 114 in hotel accommodation, which we’re trying to resolve. Strategies are great. We put them in place to manage demand. These are demand-led services.

“We can’t stop people coming to us,” he said. “All we can do is provide the best services we can. There’s a statutory obligation to house someone.”

Conservative Poets councillor Aslam Khan warned: “We need to build more homes. Those we build for sale aren’t going to the people of Luton. We need to look at the bigger picture not just now, but over the next decade.”

Mr Moone replied: “We’ve just had a peer review which identified the same thing. We’ve got to have a bigger ambition for more housing in the borough, which we’ll be definitely considering.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Central Bedfordshire hasn’t come up with any opportunities for us. North Hertfordshire have spoken to us about the east of Luton and the opportunities there.

“We know fundamentally we need to up our game when it comes to housing. But we can’t build our way out of this particular issue. There are too many people to house.

“There are 11,000 on the housing register and 1,088 in temporary accommodation. We can’t provide enough housing for the people coming to us that are vulnerable.

“We’ve got to find desperately some other opportunities elsewhere. We’re keeping people in temporary accommodation for long periods of time and it’s not suitable, especially for those with children.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“They’re having to travel across town to school, and there’s nothing we can do about that apart from apologise. We’re not getting enough affordable housing from the private sector.

“We’re speaking about how to make it better. That’s a big piece of work for next year,” he added.

“I don’t want to be here saying the budget overspend has gone above £5m because that won’t be at all tenable. Without some extra resource this year, the overspend would be more than £5m.

“We’re in a particularly difficult position because our demand isn’t coming down. It’s going up. We’re running to keep still.”