THE AMOUNT spent on providing bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless people has increased by ten times in just five years.

In the 2012/13 financial year Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) spent £32,388 providing 530 days of temporary shelter for those without stable accommodation.

By 2016/17 that figures had soared to £322,000, with 4,953 days paid for.

Clive Jones, opposition councillor and Wokingham’s Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in June, predicted the figures would continue to rise.

“I was amazed to see these figures,” he said.

“Wokingham is meant to be one of wealthiest parts of the country yet we have a homeless problem that needs over £300,000 spent on bed and breakfast accommodation to help vulnerable people and their families.

“There could be further increases of those in need of B&B due to the changes to Universal credit payments that are being forced through by the Conservatives.

“These will take effect in Wokingham shortly. Stopping payments of Universal credit for six weeks could see many more families loosing their homes.”

Cllr Julian McGhee Sumner, executive member for adults’ services, health, wellbeing and housing, said homeless applications in Wokingham and the country at large had risen since 2014.

He explained: “This means that time spent in bed and breakfast accommodation and other temporary accommodation has increased. If application numbers increase, the time waiting to be housed increases as the bricks and mortar social housing numbers do not increase at the same rate.

“The borough council uses opportunities to increase the availability of social housing through its planning process and new housing developments. Those households who have been accepted as homeless have priority on the Housing Register so that they can be made offers as soon as possible.”

Cllr McGhee argued that WBC’s decision to offer free geographical choice of area for social housing application meant some families waited longer in temporary accommodation than in other boroughs.

“We have plans to reduce use of B&Bs by developing more local council-owned temporary accommodation and we’re progressing with this,” he added.