Thanet District Council Cabinet members, at their meeting on Thursday 15 June 2023, recommended that the council allocate £1.19m of government funding, to support housing provision for refugee families from Ukraine and Afghanistan.
The funding was awarded to the council through the Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF). The LAHF is a central government fund, set up specifically to help local authorities provide settled accommodation for people who have arrived in the UK under specific resettlement schemes.
The council will also need to provide match funding of £1.996m. Cabinet also agreed to recommend that this be funded through borrowing as part of the council’s ongoing housing capital programme. The cost of all housing borrowing is covered from the rent paid by council tenants. The refugee families will also be paying rent for the properties, in line with Local Housing Allowance, thus contributing to the repayments and our wider housing funds.
Under the terms of the funding, the homes must be purchased by November 2023. Once acquired they will initially be used to house refugees, many of whom are already in Thanet. In the future, the homes purchased through the LAHF will be re-let, going to people who are on the council’s housing register. The nine homes, which are in the Westwood Cross area, will be newly built and purchased by the council directly from the developer.
This will not impact on the council’s existing approved new build programme which has seen £32 million allocated and over £27 million spent to date, providing 142 new homes for people on the council’s housing register. A further £26.3 million of spending is already planned and we will take full advantage of any further funding opportunities as they arise.
Cllr Helen Whitehead, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Housing is a primary focus for us as a council and we are determined to deliver better accommodation for the district. It is an absolute priority and we are committed to increasing the provision of affordable and social housing for people in need.
“We also have a moral duty to do our best to support those in need and those who are vulnerable. This grant, partial though it is, supports us to fulfil that moral duty, and provide specifically for individuals who are protected within our Equalities Act commitments.
“Thanet is a warm and welcoming place with much to offer. Having access to the Local Authority Housing Fund means that we can play our part in supporting refugee families from Afghanistan and Ukraine who have arrived in the UK through government resettlement programmes and urgently need a suitable place to live.
“Once these families no longer need these homes, they can subsequently be used to accommodate households from the council’s housing waiting list. Providing a new and permanent supply of accommodation will also help to address local housing and homelessness pressures.
“The fund also supports the growth of our housing portfolio in general, which allows us to support all residents in the long term. We are keenly aware of the issues surrounding rent inflation in Thanet, and the need for social housing.
“Our ongoing and future build and acquisition plans reflect this general need; we will be discussing a project to provide an additional 42 new affordable homes at our Cabinet meeting in July, further demonstrating our commitment to our ambitious social and affordable rent programme.”
The full report can be found on thanet.gov.uk