COUNCIL cash spent providing accommodation for homeless people found sleeping rough on Barnsley’s streets almost doubled in a year, the Chronicle can reveal.
Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities figures show Barnsley Council spent £390,000 on temporary homeless housing in the year to March - up significantly from £205,000 the year before.
Various types of housing including that provided by a private landlord accounted for a significant amount of spending with £198,000 paid - 51 per cent of the total expenditure for temporary accommodation last year.
A further £107,000 went towards housing people in bed and breakfasts in the area.
Last year’s spending is also higher than the amount spent five years ago when £173,000 was put towards temporary homeless accommodation - equating to a real-terms increase of 100 per cent.
Charity Shelter said families are being pushed into homelessness and living in ‘awful’ temporary accommodation due to unaffordable rent and a lack of social homes.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Homelessness is bad for the economy and it’s even worse for the people whose lives it destroys.
“It defies all logic to shell out on grim B and Bs and grotty flats, instead of helping people to keep hold of their home in the first place.”
Every year, the Office for National Statistics collates deaths of homeless people under the age of 75, their location, ages, and cause of death.
The latest estimates from the ONS suggest there were 13 deaths in Barnsley between 2017 and 2021.
Due to delays in registrations, around half of the deaths registered in 2021 took place in previous years, the ONS said.
The figures mainly cover people who were sleeping rough or using emergency accommodation such as homeless shelters at or around the time of death.
Drug poisoning was the main cause of death across the borough, with alcohol-specific causes and suicide the next worst.
Polly added: “The government promised to end rough sleeping, but things are getting worse, not better.
“They must immediately unfreeze and increase housing benefit to protect people from the ravages of homelessness this winter, and to keep people off the streets for good it has to invest in building good quality, supported social homes.”
In response, the council launched a new service in the summer in a bid to reduce the amount of rough sleepers in Barnsley, providing a residential base for those in need.
Coun Caroline Makinson, cabinet spokesperson for public health and communities, said: “We want to make sure everyone in Barnsley has the best possible chance of enjoying life in good health.
“With new accommodation options to help people in crisis and strong partnership links, I hope people will be able to turn their lives around with support from the team and our partners.
“No single organisation can solve homelessness so I want to thank our partners and the public for helping us to support people at the earliest possible opportunity.”