Enfield Council’s independent housing company, Housing Gateway, has purchased its 200th property as part of a continuing strategy to reduce expensive temporary accommodation costs.
The company has already saved the Council almost £1 million through purchasing family homes in the borough and surrounding area, to provide alternatives to costly nightly accommodation in private rented properties.
Instead of being placed with private landlords on a short term basis, families are placed in a Housing Gateway property and given an assured shorthold tenancy and support to find different longer term, and cheaper, accommodation.
Half of Housing Gateway properties are two, three and four bedroom ex-Council homes purchased under the ‘Right to Buy’ system; Housing Gateway is also actively looking for more suitable homes around Enfield.
Housing Gateway was set up in March 2014 to reduce an anticipated £3.3 million budget pressure associated with housing families in temporary accommodation in 2014/15 – a figure which was predicted to rise to £7.8 million if no action had been taken.
Instead, between then and 31 March 2016, the company purchased 180 properties, saving the Council £968,585 in nightly accommodation costs in the process.
Housing Gateway Board Member and Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Efficiency, Cllr Dino Lemonides, said: “Setting up Housing Gateway was a wonderfully innovative and effective way of easing budget pressures on the Council at a time when central government budgets were being reduced.
“Between 2010 and 2015 we needed to make budget reductions of £118 million and we still need to find a further £56 million of savings by 2019/20 because of continuing reductions on central government funding.
“This project has been a huge success in significantly reducing our costs in this area and enabling us to spend our budgets on the vital services our residents depend upon.”
Housing Gateway Board Member and Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing & Housing Regeneration, Cllr Ahmet Oykener, said “Housing Gateway has also helped the Council reduce temporary accommodation budget pressures, secure good quality local properties for local families and drives up the standards of accommodation in Enfield by ensuring the properties it lets are well managed and of a good quality.
“This is a practical, effective and intelligent response to serious budget pressures and I am delighted we have been able to find an effective solution to an incredibly taxing problem.”
Further homes will be purchased this year as the Council seeks to expand its property portfolio.