A council responsible for one of the most affluent areas in the North has approved a plan to increase homeless accommodation by more than 50 per cent while stopping millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent on providing beds in guesthouses and hotels.

Meeting in Scarborough, North Yorkshire Council’s executive unanimously passed a policy to fulfil its statutory duty to homeless households to provide “accommodation anywhere” across the county, while recognising “maintaining existing connections and support systems is desirable”.

Executive member for housing, Councillor Simon Myers, said while every council in the country had seen massive pressures for homeless accommodation rear up over the past four years, there was “a particularly noticeable pressure” in Scarborough.

He said the cost of providing accommodation for homeless people in North Yorkshire had soared by 400 per cent since 2020 to £2m annually and pressure existed for such accommoation across the county.

The council is providing temporary accommodation, such as hotels and bed and breakfasts, to up to 70 families in North Yorkshire at a cost of more than £32,000 annually per bed, exacerbating the authority’s financial woes caused by rising demand for social care and special needs children.

An officer’s report to the meeting stated it was also becoming “increasingly challenging” for the council to be compliant with legislation to protect certain groups, such as children and pregnant women.

It added: “Within North Yorkshire levels of demand are likely to remain high going forward, which requires proactive intervention measures.”

Across North Yorkshire the council has access to 169 units of temporary accommodation that it owns and manages or through registered providers.

The meeting saw the council’s leading members approve setting an £11.6m budget to create or work with registered providers to launch 90 households over the next four years for homeless people to stay.

Executive members were told the temporary accommodation would include “a purpose-built place of change for those who have been long-term homeless” in Scarborough, based on the Fern House hostel in Harrogate, where residents are offered a range of support. 

The authority’s public health director nodded as Coun Myers told the meeting how homelessness could be both a symptom and cause of “other disruptions in people’s lives”, underlining it would be for the benefit of all North Yorkshire’s residents that the authority tackled the issues homeless people faced.

Executive member for corporate services, Scarborough councillor Heather Phillips, said people were “only three bad decisions away from being homeless”, so after much work examining the issue in the resort it was reassuring large-scale projects to tackle homelessness were coming forward.

She added: “This isn’t a sticking plaster, this is a full-on attempt to sort out the base root problem, so that’s refreshing.”

The meeting heard money saved from the proposals would be used to support frontline services and several councillors call for new accommodation to be created as soon as possible.