Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils to step up efforts to tackle homelessness as new laws comes into force

Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils have hired five new members of staff as they prepare to step up act

Mid Suffolk and Babergh councils have hired five new members of staff as they prepare to step up action against homelessess. Picture: DAVID CHESKIN/PA - Credit: PA

Locals authorities are preparing to crack down on homelessness in Babergh and Mid Suffolk as a new government act dedicated to cut down on rough sleeping comes into force this month.

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, which have separate elected members assisted by one integrated team of officers, have recruited five additional staff within their Housing Solutions team – as they set out to implement the new Homelessness Reduction Act.

The Act, introduced on April 3, sets out a number of new requirements, including doubling the time frame during which a person is classed as being threatened with homelessness, and creating personalised plans for applicants.

Councils will now have to take steps for 56 days to ‘relieve’ homelessness by helping any eligible applicants to find secure accommodation, as opposed to the 28 days required previously.

However the Act also places a new duty on certain applicants who deliberately and unreasonably refuse to co-operate with the council – meaning they are required to comply with a personal housing plan, and if they fail to do so, risk losing all support from their local authority.

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Overall, workload will inevitabably increase. In preparation for the change, the councils have trained all staff in relevant skills, created template personal housing plans for a number of complicated scenarios, and upgraded their IT system to meet new data recording requirements.

The councils have also developed a number of pathway plans for vulnerable groups – including those with mental health problems, people who have been to prison, and care leavers.

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However the councils still have a number of duties to work through – including checking over temporary accommodation stock, identifying gaps in provision and purchasing additional units in Mid Suffolk.

In the past year, Mid Suffolk and Babergh Councils have invested £40,000 in renovating and upgrading the Old School House in Hadleigh to create five revamped bedsits with a new lease signed to secure the facility for the community.

Almost £14,000 has also gone to Manns Court in Elmswell, one of the councils’ sheltered housing schemes, to convert the redundant warden’s property into new flats.

There have been no official targets set for the coming year.

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