New plan to provide accomodation for Sutton homeless


Hard-hit homeless families will be sheltered in an empty building, under a Sutton Council plan.


By Alfie Godden and Pete Walker

Hard-hit homeless families will be sheltered in an empty building, under a Sutton Council plan.

The Council now hope to discuss plans with the former Oakleigh building’s residential neighbours to accommodate approximately 45 families affected by a 12 per cent increase in Sutton’s homeless.

Destitute families have been bedded in nearby B&Bs by the council, much to the pleasure of some owners.

Shalini Blackman, office manager at Ingleby House, Sutton, voiced concern at the thought of losing benefit-seeking customers to the project.

“If it is free, that is competition, that is a problem,” she said, questioning Oakleigh’s sustainability.

“There are people who live here who are on benefits.

“They are ok, we have no problems,” she added, noting however that their accommodation is ‘not safe for children’.

Cllr Jayne McCoy, Chair of Sutton’s Housing, Economy and Business Committee, insists the idea is ‘innovative’ and said the project was responding to families’ needs.

“In these tough economic times we have a duty,” she said. “Converting this building would save Sutton money each year and provide a much better response to a serious problem for so many families.”

Serious opposition to the plan at this stage is only speculation and councillors are yet to take strides towards a conclusion with local residents.

“We don’t know if anything will happen at this stage,” said a council spokesman.

London’s homelessness, which started to rise in April 2011 to a 25% average, could increase further when benefits are cut in spring next year.

The Coalition’s Welfare Reform Act limits the cap on total benefit to £500 for lone parents and couples, with or without children, and £350 for single individuals.

Sutton Council hopes the Oakleigh building will save the borough between £144,000 and £127,000 annually.

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