BARNSLEY Council bosses will next week look at the next steps to help house Afghan refugees from bridging hotels - whilst also supporting the town’s homeless community - after accepting a £1m government grant.
The funding from the Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF) is a capital fund which supports councils across England to obtain housing for those who are unable to find settled accommodation on resettlement schemes.
The first round, which the council was not included in, provided £500m to obtain accommodation for those who arrived in the UK via Ukrainian and Afghan resettlement scheme.
The next round of funding provides a further £250m - and Barnsley has been offered more than £1m.
A report, which will be discussed on Wednesday, states that the council will acquire 13 additional homes.
It states: “The LAHF is intended to mitigate against pressures on local authority homelessness and social housing resources which arise from the eligible cohort as sponsorship, family placements and bridging accommodation arrangements come to an end by increasing the provision of affordable housing available to local authorities to support those in the cohort who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or in bridging accommodation.
“This scheme is focused on Afghans who had been supporting British operations in Afghanistan and the funding is primarily to resettle them, especially those who are currently residing in the bridging accommodation.
“The DLUHC has accepted the council’s plan whereby it would purchase 12 units for rent - and one temporary accommodation unit - for the Afghan Resettlement Scheme and pay 60 per cent of the purchase price.
“This report seeks approval to delegate authority to the group leader estates to enter into negotiations to acquire properties in line with the grant terms and up to the funding envelope.”
The funding allocation has been calculated by the government based on a median house price of £150,000.
The estimated match funding on this basis for the council is £1.17m - therefore the total scheme costs are expected to be around £2.21m.
The report added: “It is proposed that the match funding will come from the housing revenue account.
“The council has powers to acquire and provide housing accommodation under part two of the Housing Act 1985.
“The risks in delivering this project were highlighted to cabinet in the report dated July 26.
“In short, project risks are due to the short delivery timeframe, the availability of suitable stock, the extent of grant made available for both capital and revenue spend and the availability of match funding from council resources which are stretched and may not cover the cost of match required to acquire/renovate all 13 properties.
“Even with the establishment of a dedicated project group, and delegated approval to progress negotiation and acquisition at the earliest opportunity as recommended in this report, there is no guarantee, at this time, that we will be able to deliver all 13 properties by March 29 2024, and this has been communicated to DLUHC.”