London borough sent 74 homeless families to live in Buckinghamshire countryside

-Credit: (Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A London council is sending dozens of homeless families to live in the Buckinghamshire countryside, it can be revealed. 74 families in total were placed in temporary accommodation in the towns of Wycombe and Wendover by Brent Council over 12 months.,

Redbridge, Barnet, Ealing and Hillingdon all sent an additional six families combined to new homes across Beaconsfield, Burnham, Aylsbury and Farnham, adding up to 80 West London families moving to the Home County.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide temporary accommodation while they consider a homeless application if the applicant is believed to be homeless, eligible for assistance or in priority need.

Labour-led Brent Council claimed it was ‘forced’ to settle homeless families in Bucks due to London’s eyewatering accommodation costs. It said that most of those making the roughly 30-mile journey from London to Wycombe do not secure ‘long-term homes’ in the area.

Conservative-run Buckinghamshire Council, which released the figures, said 503 families lived in temporary accommodation in the county during the financial year of 2023/24. However, it pointed out that this was a ‘snapshot’ of people who came through the system during the financial year.

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However, Bucks Council leader Martin Tett has said there is a ‘developing problem’ of London boroughs ‘exporting people into temporary accommodation’ in the county ‘for the long-term’.

Speaking last month, during the council’s annual meeting, he said: “That puts a pressure, not just on us – using up private rented accommodation – but it then puts a pressure on our social care and social services and indeed children’s services.”

He added: “This is just literally passing a problem onto us and quite often without any real warning as well.”

'We always have to remember that we are talking about real people and real lives here'

Following the release of the figures on temporary accommodation, Bucks Council’s opposition group leader, Cllr Stuart Wilson, said it was important to consider the people behind the data.

He said: “We always have to remember that we are talking about real people and real lives here – UK families hit by recent inflation and rapid rises in rent and mortgage interest payments.”

He added: “I will not get drawn into a parochial debate about Buckinghamshire versus Brent; this is about people.”

Cllr Wilson blamed the housing ‘crisis’ on the ‘failure of successive governments’ in addressing the issue, as well as the ‘financial car crash’ of former Prime Minster Liz Truss’ infamous mini-budget.

He added: “We need a new model on housing and temporary accommodation from national and local government.”

Laurence Coaker, Brent Council’s housing needs and support director, said: “Accommodation in Brent, and across London, is unaffordable for most households facing homelessness.

"As a council, we are therefore forced to look outside of the capital to help people in need of somewhere to sleep for the night. This is driven by market forces and the way the system is funded.

“Wendover and High Wycombe are areas that are commutable to Brent where the rates start to become more affordable for families facing the emergency that is homelessness. Government regulations require us to choose affordable accommodation that is closest to Brent.

“The number of homeless households from Brent securing long-term homes in Buckinghamshire is relatively low because the area is still largely unaffordable for the majority of homeless families. Most homeless households cannot afford to live in London, or in the home counties, and so they move into private rented properties in more affordable parts of the country.”

Buckinghamshire Council has been approached for comment.