Blackpool Council has agreed to establish its own regulations for the provision of supported housing amid evidence other towns are ‘dumping’ individuals who put a strain on the town’s social services.
The policy has also led to complaints of anti-social behaviour in some of the resort’s key holiday zones.
Landlords can receive housing benefit of up to £355 a week for providing supported housing, compared to £85 for standard accommodation.
In return they must provide an additional package of support for tenants who may have drink or drug addictions, be ex-offenders or who are fleeing domestic violence.
But an inquiry by councillors has found some landlords are taking the extra housing benefit without providing any support for vulnerable residents, and can do this because the system is unregulated.
Coun Neal Brookes, cabinet member for housing and welfare reform, told a meeting of the council’s executive: “There is a lot of money to be made by utilising that loophole and making a profit out of vulnerable people in our community.”
The executive has agreed the council should set its own standards to control supported housing, and will ask Blackpool’s MPs to lobby the government for tougher legislation to control the sector.
Blackpool has already received £729,648 from the government to extend a pilot scheme investigating powers to control supported housing which is not well managed.
Coun Brookes warned the surplus of rundown b&bs in Blackpool had led to properties being bought by landlords “simply seeking to purchase property for pseudo supported housing and to make a profit.”
He added: “Because we have so much of that, other areas outside Blackpool think it’s ok to send people to occupy supported housing in Blackpool without any reference to our social services and support teams.
“So effectively they are dumping what they refer to as problematic individuals in Blackpool with a private sector landlord who is seeking to make a profit out of that.”
Coun Jim Hobson, who represents Bloomfield ward which is in the heart of the holiday area, welcomed the decision and said he had “a fair amount of anecdotal evidence from my constituents of very poor supported housing” in that area.
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