An extra £20 million could be made available in South Cambridgeshire to help provide more private rented homes for people threatened with homelessness.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s scrutiny and overview committee will discuss the funding to its housing company Ermine Street Housing at its January 18 meeting.

Some of the cash would go towards buying new properties in South Cambridgeshire for temporary use by single homeless people in a bid to help reduce spending on bed and breakfast accommodation.

Using the private rental market, Ermine Street Housing already owns and rents out around 530 properties in and around Cambridgeshire thanks to  an initial £100m council loan spread over the past 10 years. Ermine Street also leases around 190 properties from the Ministry of Defence. The additional £20 million set to be discussed by councillors would also allow Ermine Street to purchase more homes for rent.

Last year, Ermine Street Housing provided the council with an income of £3.6m and forecasts suggest the figure for this year will be £4.25m.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s lead cabinet member for housing Cllr John Batchelor said: “This loan would help to provide additional local temporary accommodation for single people who become homeless.

“This in turn would reduce the amount we need to spend on expensive bed and breakfast accommodation under our homelessness responsibilities.

“It would also help to ensure there is further good quality private rented homes in the district – which we know there is a need for. Times continue to be tough for councils, as we need to do more with less. Innovative schemes like Ermine Street help ensure we continue to be financially secure whilst providing vital frontline services that residents want and need.”

If councillors approve the £20m in extra loan funding, the offer will also need to be accepted by the Ermine Street Housing board. The loan would then be provided during the next two financial years.

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