Number of homeless children in Chelmsford ‘truly appalling’

Chelmsford City Council has pledged to spend millions to build dozens of affordable homes as it reveals the “appalling” number of children living in hotels.

The council has pledged to build at least 58 new affordable flats and houses for Chelmsford families funded in part from combined internal and external borrowing of £53.5m.

Council leader Stephen Robinson has said the social housing programme – part of a capital plan which will also include improving and maintaining other key council facilities – will save in the long term the cost of housing homeless families in temporary accommodation including bed and breakfast.

Last October, the city council issued a warning that its rapidly growing bill for temporary accommodation was contributing around £3,700,000 – half of the coming year’s extra budget pressures.

That has been filled with £1.11m of general balance reserves budget reductions and new income from fees and charges and council tax increases.

However, the council has warned ongoing homelessness costs are adding to an unsustainable financial situation.

In November, there were around 470 homeless households in temporary accommodation and many more families in overcrowded housing waiting to move on.

That number is expected to rise to 620 by March 2025. Due to lack of housing, the council has sent 150 families out of Chelmsford to as far as Northampton.

Cllr Robinson said that much of the debt will help address those housing problems.

He told Chelmsford City Council at its full council meeting on February 21: “We will save on the revenue budget from putting people into bed and breakfast.

“It is a stain on society that there are over 300 Chelmsford children living in hotels.

“That’s truly appalling. Their life chances have been shattered because they don’t have a proper house to live in. And we want to build them a proper house so they can go to school near where they live and we don’t have to send them out of the district.”

Advertisement

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter