Sharp rise in use of temporary accommodation in West Norfolk revealed
The number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation in West Norfolk has risen sharply in the last five years, according to new figures.
A homelessness charity has criticised the growing number of families and individuals being placed into B&Bs, hostels and other temporary housing.
But borough council chiefs say they are addressing the issue by developing new sites.
According to newly-released numbers from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, there were 33 households in temporary accommodation in West Norfolk at the end of March this year - up 43 per cent on the number in 2013.
Of those, 27 were placed in local authority or housing association stock. Of the rest, five were placed in B&Bs. However, the figures do show that all of the homeless households which had been identified as a priority case had been found some form of accommodation.
Meanwhile, in the year to March 2018, 84 households in West Norfolk were classed as homeless and a priority need, meaning the council has a responsibility to find them suitable accommodation.
Priority cases include families with children, households where someone is pregnant and people aged 16 or 17. Councils can also class certain people as a priority if they are vulnerable, including victims of domestic abuse, people with mental health issues and those who have spent time in care, prison or the armed forces.
A council spokesman said: “We are working on a new strategy to address the issues of homelessness and rough sleeping.
“One of the elements of this new strategy is extending the provision on temporary accommodation to avoid the use of B&B and other inappropriate temporary accommodation.
“One scheme is a new temporary accommodation scheme at 37 Broad Street which will be complete in September.”
From April this year, local councils have been required to implement the Homelessness Reduction Act, which is designed to ensure that public services work together in a coordinated approach to tackle homelessness.
Despite a government commitment to spend £72.7m on it over three years, many councils have reported their facilities for tackling homelessness being stretched by rising demand.
And the figures also show that, across England, there are 10,000 families for whom councils have a duty to provide housing, but no suitable accommodation had been secured, compared to 5,930 five years ago, and nearly 80,000 households in temporary accommodation, up 44 per cent on 2013.
The chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, Jon Sparkes, said: “No one deserves to live like this. When people do lose their homes, we need to make sure they are helped quickly into safe and secure accommodation. This means affordable houses and flats in ordinary communities.”
But Martin Tett, of the Local Government Association said: “Councils are determined to prevent homelessness from happening and do all they can to support families. Rising homelessness demonstrates the need for the duties the Homelessness Reduction Act imposed on councils to be fully funded and resourced.”