A RECORD-BREAKING amount of cash was spent on temporary accommodation for Barnsley people deemed to be at risk of homelessness.

The Chronicle can reveal that £518,167 was spent in 2022/23, up almost £70,000 on the previous year’s total.

There has been a year-on-year increase since 2013 when the sum stood at just £60,395, figures have revealed.

In the first two quarters of 2023, more than £200,000 has been spent on urgent accommodation in bed and breakfast venues across the borough.

Single people accounted for the most referrals last year, with 139 placements, while 103 families and 124 children were also helped.

The shock figures come just a month after ruling cabinet members signed off the council’s refreshed five-year strategy on homeless prevention and rough sleeping.

Coun Wendy Cain, cabinet spokesperson for public health and communities, said: “We know that homelessness isn’t something we can tackle alone.

“Refreshing the strategy will help us to respond to the challenges currently facing our communities, including supporting families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

“This is an area where, locally and nationally, we’re seeing people need more support and we want to make sure we can help them earlier before they reach crisis.

“I would like to thank our colleagues and partners for their continued commitment to supporting our communities and tackling homelessness.”

Long-term rough sleeper statistics are increasing in Barnsley, according to a council report, and 139 individuals were helped off the streets last year.

On average, 18 people every month are found rough sleeping in the town.

The report said: “Homelessness is increasing again, both locally and nationally, as we start to feel the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and deal with a shortage of affordable housing options.

“We know that preventing homelessness is key to tackling inequality and creating sustainable communities.

“People who do not have access to good quality, affordable housing may find it more difficult to stay in education, take part in training or maintain employment, therefore this must remain our focus.

“As budgets get smaller and the demand for specialist services grows, it’s important that we work together and pool our resources to make sure people in our communities get the right support, at the right time.

“No single organisation can solve homelessness alone; we must proactively work together to intervene earlier and prevent it from happening in the first place.”

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, added: “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.

“The government promised to end rough sleeping, but things are getting worse, not better.

“They must immediately 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.”