BASILDON’s council leader says tackling homelessness in the town is like “trying to fight Tyson Fury blindfolded” after it was revealed £2.13million was spent on temporary housing.

Figures from the department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show that of the £2.13million spent, £658,000 was covered by the council, with £1.16million spent on bed and breakfast accommodation in 2022-2023.

On Monday a group of council leaders sent a letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, urging him to raise local housing allowances and provide £300m in discretionary housing payments by March 2025.

Andrew Baggott, leader of Basildon Borough Council, was among those to sign the letter.

Speaking to the Echo Mr Baggott said: “We as a council have been saying for ages something needs to change and we have been joined by other councils. Our nearest neighbours, Chelmsford Council, joined too, this is national.”

“The Local Housing Allowance is not the only answer and some of it is legislation and it’s a complex situation, the reality being we have a duty to house people who are homeless. So if someone presents homeless, they have the obligation to home them. While there is antipathy to it, this makes it difficult for councils.

“We should have more support from central government. It’s like you are trying to fight Tyson Fury blindfolded. We have a massive handicap, we can’t raise council tax because of other services. If we decided to go back to basics we would let residents down - the funding has all dried up regardless.”

Mr Baggott added that the letter is “outside of any ideology, across the councils regardless of colour,” as all councils are suffering the same issues and politics must be put aside in order to sort the problem.

He added: “Something radical and unpopular is needed and we have an element of NIMBY-ism where whenever someone proposes a build, quite rightly, the public is distrustful and rightly concerned.

“We need a real radical overhaul.”