Following a report to Cabinet on Tuesday, a scheme was approved to create a £5 million property fund over the next seven years to acquire up to 80 flats.
However, the current Mayor, George Ferguson, has overseen a 42% increase in the use of expensive, emergency accommodation in Bristol over the last year costing the local taxpayer £4 million in hostel beds, which is due to a shortage in social housing.
Cllr Charles Lucas, who is the Conservative Mayoral candidate in next year’s elections, is concerned that this new provision will do nothing to help alleviate the plight of rough sleepers, whose numbers have also soared in recent years. (Last official figures controversially found 41 individuals sleeping on the streets on the night of the count but many outreach workers suggest this is an underestimate of the true scale of the problem.)
Cllr Lucas said: “This funding for flats is to be welcomed but much more needs to be done to provide everyone with the dignity and security of a roof over their head. It is also unacceptable that the current Mayor, George Ferguson, has cost local hardworking people £4 million in tax because of a failure to provide enough social housing.
“I am concerned that this new scheme will not do anything to help some of the most desperate in society, those sleeping rough on our streets or even in the city’s parks, many of whom suffer from mental health problems and have no income at all.
“I know from my own personal experience of volunteer work helping the most desperate, just how difficult it is for them to get back on their feet again. Therefore, it is crucially important that we must not leave these people behind.
“That is why, if I were to be elected Mayor, I would earmark a proportion of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which is imposed on all new major residential developments, specifically for the purpose of funding a hostel for rough sleepers.
“This would be in addition to the recently announced £5 million property fund. I will also tackle the social housing problem, which is getting worse under George Ferguson and failing the vulnerable, by getting Bristol building and making the Council build more homes.
“A purpose built facility would not only provide a safe place for people, it would act as a hub, giving them all the support they need to get back into work and rebuild their lives.”