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Sharp rise in West Norfolk homelessness applications outlined to council committee

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Homelessness applications in West Norfolk have more than doubled in the space of a year, following the government’s lifting of restrictions on landlords.

In the period from April to September 2019, about 240 people applied to the borough council as homeless.

In the same period in 2020, about 190 people did so.

Officials have revealed a big increase in homelessness applications to West Norfolk Council.
Officials have revealed a big increase in homelessness applications to West Norfolk Council.

But in the same period this year, the number was more than 400 people.

The data was presented by officers to members of the council’s environment & community panel at a meeting on Tuesday.

An officer said: “Things have switched back to where they were pre-Covid, so we’re now starting to see again the main reason for people presenting is the end of private rented sector tenancies and, again, families and friends no longer being able to accommodate people.

King's Court, Borough Council of West Norfolk.. (49900631)
King's Court, Borough Council of West Norfolk.. (49900631)

“I have to stress as well that we’re seeing the same mix of singles and families presenting as we did prior to Covid, and the main reason for that was the lift of the moratorium on evictions, and landlords being able to seek possession, which ended in September of last year.”

She said the council was effectively seeing a backlog in applications from 2020.

She added: “Interestingly, it’s not because of rent arrears that people are being asked to leave, which was a big concern, obviously as a result of the financial and economic impacts of Covid – it’s actually landlords just wanting to have their property back.

“We’re trying to look a bit deeper into that and gather more intelligence but we can’t ignore the fact that there’s a very strong and buoyant housing market out there at the moment, in terms of sales.”

Lifestyle changes brought about by the Covid lockdowns has driven some of this change, she said.

Addressing the officers, the panel’s Conservative chair Colin Sampson said: “I think we can be quite proud in this part of the world, that it is a job being well done.

“I think we’re light-years ahead of a lot of the others, when you hear some of the stories, so a big thank you to you and the gang, if you like.”

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