Oxford City Council has warned of an "unfolding crisis", urging the Government to step in as the cost of providing temporary accommodation for the city's homeless households rises.

The local authority has called upon Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, for a critical meeting to discuss ways in which they can handle the situation.

District and city councils are legally obliged to provide housing for eligible individuals and families who find themselves without a home.

Housing affordability poses particular issues in Oxford, the least affordable city in the UK, where approximately 30 per cent of homes are privately rented.

People who become homeless are often initially placed into temporary accommodation until a more permanent home can be sourced.

Oxford City Council owns 120 properties for temporary accommodation.

Oxford Mail: Susan BrownSusan Brown (Image: Oxford City Council)

Councillor Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council said: "The temporary accommodation crisis is going to bankrupt councils across the country.

"That is not going to happen in Oxford, but it could have a profound and devastating impact on our services.

"The Government must do more to help local authorities, but it also needs to do more to help families struggling to pay their rent.

"This summer, there could be more than 300 families and individuals living in temporary accommodation in Oxford alone."

A focus on prevention from the Council has managed to decrease the number of people in temporary accommodation at any one time to around 80 to 120 households over the past few years.

However, there are currently 220 households accommodated in temporary homes in Oxford, a figure expected to leap to 315 by July.

The rate and volume of individuals and families losing their homes has seen the Council resort to costly hotel placements.

Despite trying tactics such as purchasing and leasing more temporary homes, block-booking hotels, securing good supplies of private and social housing for future housing transitions, and hiring new staff to bolster homelessness prevention, the Council still faces a possible £3m annual deficit - 12.5 per cent of its annual net budget.

Although the Government extended a lifeline in the form of a £600m support package in January, the £240,000 received by Oxford's local authority from this pot covers only eight per cent of its anticipated financial gap.

The Government does offer a subsidy for councils providing temporary accommodation, but this has been frozen at 90 per cent of the Local Housing Allowance since 2011 and remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, rents in Oxford have risen almost a third during this period.

Oxford City Council has retained 7,900 council homes and has a future building plan via its housing company, OX Place.