Eastbourne Borough Council has declared a housing emergency at a meeting of Full Council last night.

The declaration follows a campaign led by Eastbourne Borough Council that highlights the social and financial crisis caused by rising levels of homelessness and the soaring costs associated with temporary accommodation placements.

The motion, submitted by Councillor Peter Diplock, Cabinet Member for Housing, reaffirms the council’s work to press the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Chancellor of the Exchequer – along with their shadow counterparts – for additional resources to help those local housing authorities and councils worst affected, such as Eastbourne, including raising the current 2011 cap on housing benefit subsidy for local authority housing placements.

The most recently available figures show that rough sleeping in England has increased by 26% and a record 280,000 households are in temporary accommodation.

Councillor Diplock said:

“The council’s total net spend on temporary accommodation in 2023/24 is forecast to be circa £4.6m, which equates to 49p in every pound of council tax we collect.

“This situation is unsustainable and continues to represent an existential threat to local government.

“While councils continue to do everything in their powers to meet both the needs of residents and statutory obligations, the system was not created to deal with these ever-rising numbers of people presenting as homeless.  The driving forces underpinning this are systemic and structural and are not in the council’s control.

“Under current funding arrangements the council does not have the resources to solve the problem alone.”

At an Eastbourne Borough Council led conference in January, Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent local authorities repeated a collective call to raise the cap on housing benefit subsidy for local authority housing placements from the current 2011 levels, in order to properly reflect the real costs of providing temporary accommodation.  The meeting was joined and supported by Crisis, the Trussell Trust, MPs and Peers.

Councillor Diplock added:

“We will continue to work with the sector and try and engage the government to develop long-term solutions to fix the national housing crisis.

“I am proud of what we have achieved so far and the influence I believe we have exerted, but the crisis we face has not gone away and I fear the most vulnerable in our communities will be worst affected.”