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Council to take action to help drive down homelessness in Castle Point
12:00pm Monday 11th March 2013 in News
CASTLE Point Council is devising a new action plan to help tackle rising numbers of homelessness in the borough.
Over the last five years the number of people approaching the council who are threatened with homelessness has risen by 47 per cent – from 790 cases in 2008 to 1,165 cases in 2012.
During that time the council has helped a total of 4,683 families who were struggling to keep a roof over their heads.
Last year alone, the authority saved 138 families from homelessness, 34 cases of which required emergency attention.
Now, the council is working hard to devise a new four-year homelessness strategy to try and buck the trend.
The council’s policy and scrutiny committee met to discuss the plan last week.
Wendy Livings, head of housing and communities, said at the meeting: “Homeless applications are increasing but we would expect that because of the economic situation we have been facing over the last few years.
“Families represent almost half of all our cases and it is going to become a growing issue. We are also seeing the number of parental evictions increasing. In this difficult climate more people are finding it difficult to find work and keep their homes."
Numbers are expected to rise even higher following changes under the Government’s Welfare Reform Act – the biggest change in the welfare system for 60 years.
Eoin Egan, Conservative councillor for Appleton ward, said: “We have got to act. A lot of people probably do not know at the moment how things will manifest.
“Our residents are going to need a lot of advice when it comes to money when these changes are bought in.”
The authority is looking at improving their website to make advice more accessible to the public, improving their Mortgage Rescue Scheme, and encouraging more landlords to link up with the council to provide emergency accommodation to families in dire need.
Currently there are only seven emergency B&B rooms available to families facing homeless in Castle Point, with the council often having to house people in neighbouring boroughs such as Basildon, Southend and even Thurrock.
Proposals also include conducting workshops in secondary schools to educate young people on the impact of homelessness and the difficulties of living a life on benefits.
The new strategy, which will run until 2016, is expected to be bought in this May
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