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Sharp rise in West Norfolk’s homeless figure is revealed

Lynn News Web Site Fillers

Lynn News Web Site Fillers

Homelessness has risen sharply in West Norfolk and borough council chiefs are calling for the public’s views on how to tackle the problem.

New figures released by the authority show that 106 households were accepted as having full statutory homeless duty, meaning the council has to house them, during 2013-14, up 25 on the previous year.

A further 120, an increase of more than a third, were also classed as not being in priority need of housing.

And the total number of homeless applications soared from 213 in 2012-13 to 336 in 2013-14, while, in total, more than 1,000 individuals and families sought advice and support from housing officials.

The figures have been released as part of a draft homelessness strategy for the next five years, for which a public consultation has begun.

Adrian Lawrence, the council’s cabinet member for housing and community, said: “We need to be looking at what we can do to assist as preventing homelessness is a key priority for us.

“We have identified a series of priorities and associated actions and we are keen to hear people’s views as to whether we have got it right or whether there is anything we could also consider or do differently.”

Most of those classed as homeless are families with young children.

However, the report also highlights an increasing trend of applications among the 16-24 and 60 and over age groups.

The most common causes of people being accepted as homeless are either the inability of relatives or friends to accommodate them, the loss of private rented accommodation or the end of a relationship.

Only five per cent of cases was due to either rent or mortgate arrears.

Officials say the new strategy is designed to ensure agencies intervene early, in order to prevent homelessness, offer appropriate housing, advice and support to those in need and ensure there is a suitable supply of both social and private sector housing available.

However, the report also reveals that one of the biggest housing shortages in the area relates to the number of two-bedroom homes available for rent in Lynn.

Just 18 such properties were let out during 2013-14, down more than 70 per cent in two years, while more than seven times as many applicants requested a two-bedroom home than properties available.

The number of new affordable homes built in the borough has also fallen sharply, from 160 in 2010-11 to only 30 in 2013-14, though the authority says it expects the figure to rise again this year.

The report also says that more needs to be done to help people with complex needs, such as mental health problems, learning disabilities, addicition problems or poor life skills to access housing, as they are less likely to be able to secure a private tenancy agreement.

The report, together with a survey, can be seen on the borough council’s website at www.west-norfolk.gov.uk/haveyoursay.

The consultation will remain open until mid-November.

The final strategy is expected to be presented to councillors before the end of the year.

 

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