Investigation launched as former Blackpool B&Bs used to house ex-offenders

Blackpool has secured government funding to tackle the  growth of failed b&bs in the resort being used for unregulated supported housing.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 3:22 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 3:26 pm

Evidence shows vulnerable people are being shipped into the town by other councils and found accommodation funded through housing benefit.

Tenants include ex-offenders and recovering drug addicts, as well as older people, those suffering poor mental health and people fleeing domestic abuse.

It is feared some vulnerable people are not getting the support they need and in some cases the mix of tenants living side by side is inappropriate.

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A town hall scrutiny is underway

Lack of regulation also leads to a surplus of accommodation and unruly tenants in some neighbourhoods, leading to outbreaks of anti-social behaviour.

Now Blackpool has been given £729,648 by the government as part of a £2.3m pot of cash being distributed across four pilot areas also including Birmingham, Blackburn and Hull.

Funding is being used to extend a pilot scheme investigating powers to control supported housing, including adopting new standards for provision.

The funding comes as councillors are part way through an inquiry into provision of supported housing in Blackpool.

An interim scrutiny report has found concerns “regarding the high levels of supported housing in some wards where former, large holiday accommodation was situated.

“The prevalence on some particular roads or areas often resulted in high levels of anti-social behaviour which affected local residents.”

The inquiry has also uncovered a “high number of vulnerable people being brought in from out of area by providers in order to take places within

supported housing in the town.”

It is believed some councils use agents to find accommodation in Blackpool for “vulnerable and difficult to place adults”, thus moving them out of their home towns into an unfamiliar area.

In 2018 84 per cent of new housing benefit claims for this type of accommodation in Blackpool had been made by adults from out of the area.

But some providers, who can charge up to £355 a week, are failing to deliver the additional services to residents which supported housing requires.

To justify higher rents, integrated care packages should be offered to all residents.

The council is also seeking support from the town’s MPs for a letter to the government seeking new legislation to control the sector.

Minister for rough sleeping and housing Eddie Hughes said: “We are determined to take action to drive up standards across the sector and by extending the pilots in Birmingham, Hull, Blackpool and Blackburn we can continue test innovative new approaches.

“From this, we will develop long-term nationwide solutions, and ensure vulnerable people get high quality accommodation and the support they need. “

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