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Council to buy two-bed property to house homeless

PUBLISHED: 16:45 06 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:45 06 July 2020

North Norfolk District Council. Picture: NNDC

North Norfolk District Council. Picture: NNDC

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A Norfolk council has agreed to buy a fourth property with £600,000 set aside to house homeless residents.

Sarah Butikofer, Liberal Democrat leader of North Norfolk District Council. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATESarah Butikofer, Liberal Democrat leader of North Norfolk District Council. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) allocated £610,000 in its budget to buy its own stock of accommodation to house homeless residents in the district.

The council has so far spent £418,435 on three properties - a two-bed bungalow and a two-bed flat in North Walsham, and a one-bed flat in Hempton.

And councillors have now voted in favour of purchasing one final property with the chunk of cash - a two-bed North Walsham house.

The council has not revealed the price of the property, but a report published ahead of the buy states that the council has £191,565 remaining, and that “purchase of this fourth property will leave just under £20,000”.

READ MORE: Council to buy properties to house the homeless in ‘bold move’

The remaining cash is “clearly insufficient to purchase further properties” and may be set aside for repairs and improvements.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s cabinet, Andrew Brown, portfolio holder for housing and planning, said: “We have statutory duties to provide accommodation for homeless people and we need to minimise the expenditure to third parties, placing people in bed and breakfasts and the like.

“There was £610,000 allowed in the budget. We’ve managed to spread that out to cover four properties. The purchase price is above the threshold of £100,000.”

He added: “The property is in an extremely good location and more or less already in a lettable state.”

But John Rest, leader of the council’s independent group, said the council should take account of the government’s announcement of the relaxation of stamp duty.READ MORE: Council spends £117k on homeless housing amid fears over end to support

“There is a proposal to suspend stamp duty on property,” he said.

“This is worth investigating when that comes into force.

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“The stamp duty will come in at about £500,000 - if the stamp duty is going to be relaxed before we purchase this, it’s a saving for us.”

Council leader Sarah Butikofer said the council was “happy to investigate” and added: “Clearly it’s public money and any savings we can make we will.”

Mr Brown added: “There is more than one property owned by the council. The purchase is subject to a 3pc second property charge in addition to stamp duty collection on the purchase price.”

“That’s why it seems high.”

Councillors voted unanimously to agree to the property purchase.

READ MORE: ‘Everyone in’: Councils told to house homeless people by the weekend


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