A PROPERTY fund to help meet local housing needs in Purbeck is to be set up – just months before the district council ceases to exist.

A sum of £620,000 will initially be put into the fund to buy two homes, which can be used as temporary accommodation for local people who find themselves homeless.

But once the new Dorset Council comes into being in April next year it will take over the fund and the properties, and may have to open up the places to anyone in Dorset, rather than Purbeck residents alone.

The move won the backing of the new council’s shadow executive committee at a meeting in Dorchester on Tuesday (AUG 21).

Under an agreement between existing councils and the new authority any asset transfer over £100,000 has to be approved by the incoming unitary council.

Purbeck councillor Gary Suttle said the fund was needed because of the cost of properties in the area and the number of people who face having to live in B&Bs after becoming homeless.

He said that in the last year just 46 general needs homes were advertised for rent in the area on Dorset Homechoice, which meant more people being put up in temporary accommodation.

In May, 46 households in the district were in temporary homes, of which 12 were in bed and breakfast.

Recently the council bought a home in Upton and now wants to use the £620,000 from developers contributions and right to buy receipts to find and buy two other homes, In addition to the £620,000 the council will also set aside £5,000 for improvement work.

Cllr Suttle said that by not having to use B&B the two properties would save the council around £38,800 a year – with each home likely to have two adults and two children in each.

Chief shadow financial officer Jason Vaughan said he would recommend the decision as it would be a case of spending in the short term to make savings in the long term – with a social benefit.