AMBITIOUS plans to “ensure no-one in Basildon will need to sleep rough” have been unveiled.

Basildon Council will aim to create a day centre for rough sleepers, extend winter night shelters and reduce “sofa serving” - with the authority set to approve its five-year homelessness strategy next week.

Council documents reveal how during 2018/19, 937 households in the borough were helped by the council due to a person being homeless or at risk of homelessness - equating to 1 per cent of the borough being at risk of homelessness each year.

The ambitious plan has five key goals under the banner ‘Basildon borough will be a place where everyone can find and keep a home which meets their needs’.

Basildon’s mayor, David Burton-Sampson, said: “It is an ambitious goal, but it is a socially responsible one.

“I think it is a huge shame, and a tragedy, when you walk through the town centre in the day, and even more so at night, and see people sleeping in the street.

“They have a lack of hope in their eyes, and they lack a future, and whatever the circumstance leading up to that, it is a tragedy.

“We have a responsibility as a council, the county has a responsibility, and the whole country has a responsibility to give them as much support to work, not only on reducing homelessness, but preventing homelessness.”

The mayor added: “Homelessness comes in many forms, it is much more than just sleeping on the streets, and everyone deserves our support regardless.”

The first goal highlighted by this council is that “we will ensure that no one in Basildon will need to sleep rough”.

To do this, the council is considering a housing-led scheme to support rough sleepers, working with specialist rough services to provide intervention services, short term emergency accommodation and working with prisons and hospitals to make sure people released from institutions do not enter homelessness.

The second goal is to “proactively help residents to prevent homelessness”, and the third is to “improve access to suitable housing”.

The council will also “enhance our partnership working to help residents access appropriate help and support” while the final goal is to “deliver a tenancy sustainment service”, which will aim to tackle tenancy insecurity.

The council’s housing and communities committee will meet on Tuesday night to discuss the homelessness and rough sleeping strategy