COUNCIL leaders have backed plans to buy housing in a bid to cut the use of bed and breakfast as emergency accommodation.

They gave the go ahead to proposals to buy up to 70 properties to use for homeless families.

Eastbourne Borough Council cabinet heard this would be expected to save £352,000 a year on rent to private suppliers, chiefly B&B rooms.

Cabinet member Margaret Bannister said: “Having worked with families that have gone through the stress of being made homeless, I have been to some of our temporary accommodation which is not always up to a very good standard.

“To give the facility of an actual house is wonderful and it means the children within the family will be much more secure.”

The 70 homes will be bought by council-owned Eastbourne Homes Investment Company Ltd then leased back by the council at a market rate.

The move comes after a rapid rise in demand for emergency accommodation places and the cost to councils across the country.

Housing experts say there are a variety of reasons for the rise in demand, including new requirements under the Homelessness Reduction Act; high levels of evictions following the rollout of

Universal Credit and a tight supply of affordable accommodation for those on low incomes.

Eastbourne has about 165 families in emergency accommodation. 

If this figure does not fall the total emergency accommodation bill could top £1 million by the end of this financial year, officers have warned.

The council can recover part of its emergency housing costs from central government.