Strategy to combat homelessness unveiled by council

Uttlesford District Council

Uttlesford District Council - Credit: Archant

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is aiming to eliminate all use of bed and breakfast accommodation for temporary housing over the next five years, as one of four main priorities in its newly-launched ‘homelessness and rough sleeping strategy’.

R4U: Petrina Lees.

R4U: Petrina Lees. - Credit: Archant

The strategy, presented to councillors on the UDC housing board on November 21,will be in place from 2020-2025 and see the council 'investing in the delivery of good quality affordable housing and suitable temporary accommodation'.

UDC's three other priorities are: ensuring that homelessness is prevented through early intervention, working to end all rough sleeping in Uttlesford and providing residents with 'high quality housing advice'.

The plan has been released following the Government's introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in 2018. The Government has pledged to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it entirely by 2027.

Councillor Petrina Lees, the portfolio holder for housing at UDC, said in a report to the board: "We [UDC] recognise that for some people in Uttlesford access to an affordable home is challenging. For many residents even those homes classified as 'affordable homes' are still unaffordable. This is compounded by continuing austerity, welfare reform and uncertain economic times.

"Our district is lucky in that we have never seen the rough sleeping problems experienced by many of our neighbours.

"However, we must not be complacent and so will ensure that we have policies, programmes and solutions in place to keep people in their homes and find new suitable long and short-term accommodation when needed."

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According to UDC's report, since the previous homelessness strategy, it has given financial support to about 20 households for private rented accommodation, and increased its own housing stock by more than 100 properties.

In 2018, Uttlesford had no rough sleepers, according to Government figures. This places it in the top 10 per cent of all local authorities in England with the fewest number of rough sleepers.

In the East of England, there has been a 21 per cent fall in the number of rough sleepers, from a peak of 615 in 2017 to 484 in 2018. Nationally, England had 4,677 rough sleepers in 2018.

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