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Prefab homes set to house homeless as B&B costs rise

13 Dec 2023 3 minute read
A pre-fabricated modular living unit. From Wikimedia – by Ulisses Palermo CC Licence

Elgan Hearn Local Democracy Reporter

Prefabricated modular units could be placed on caravan sites to be used as temporary accommodation for homeless people to offset the use of bed and breakfasts.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Economy, Residents and Communities scrutiny committee on Monday, December 11, were given an update on how the council’s five year “Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan” is progressing.

Temporary accommodation

Dealing with homelessness cost the council £1.242 million last year. Much of that cost is due to using Bed and Breakfast and the private rental sector for temporary accommodation.

Housing communities senior manager Richard Batt told the committee that 45 households are in temporary B & B accommodation and a further 14 in private rented sector accommodation.

Mr Batt said: “The intention whenever possible is to prevent homelessness but where it can’t be prevented to minimise the time a household spends in temporary accommodation.

He explained that the council aims to have “triage” centres where a homeless person or someone fleeing an unsafe home environment could go and be given a full assessment of housing and support needs. And in future these people could be put into modular units.

Mr Batt said: “To offset the use of bed and breakfast and temporary accommodation the intention is also to provide 20 units of modular interim accommodation.

“We do have capital funding for the triage centres and supported accommodation and also for these 20 modular units.”

The money needed to run these services now needs to be factored into next year’s council revenue budget explained Mr Batt.

Caravan sites

Liberal Democrat Cllr Corinna Kenyon-Wade asked whether modular units could be sited on underused car parks in Powys?

Head of housing, Andy Thompson said: “Those are the sort of sites you would look at, but they need to be connected to all of the utilities and we’d have to get planning.”

“It’s about finding those sites as we’re not an industrialised or urbanised area – we don’t have old industrial sites we could use, such as you have in Cardiff or the West Midlands. We’re looking at caravan sites things of that nature.”

Mr Thompson explained that the units could be split into smaller groups of five that could be sited in different places as they are: “relatively easy to move around.”

Deputy council leader and cabinet member for housing, Labour’s Cllr Matthew Dorrance said: “As a council all things are interdependent. If we are able to properly support people through their accommodation then we’ll reduce the cost on social care, children’s services, health and education.”

Labour’s Cllr Liz Rijnenberg said: “This is trying to solve a problem that has been building up due to a lack of investment.”

Committee chairwoman, Liberal Democrat Cllr Angela Davies said; “This is a really ambitious optimistic,

Cllr Davies added that she was “anxious” to know more of the timescales for delivering the project and “looked forward” to seeing how it develops.


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