Councils vow to eradicate rough sleeping and cut £71,000 spend on B&Bs for homeless
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Vows to eradicate rough sleeping and reduce dependency on bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless people have been made by two Suffolk councils.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils have published their joint homelessness reduction plan for the next five years, which includes measures for how it will tackle the problem and build on existing work.
In their vision for 2023 when the strategy will be due for a refresh, the councils said they aim to have ended rough sleeping, prevented homelessness in the private rented sector and significantly reduced the use of B&Bs.
Last year, spend on B&Bs was £71,613 across the two authorities – £38,374 at Babergh and £33,239 by Mid Suffolk.
The refurbishment of The Foyer in Stowmarket is one of the key developments aiming to cut the dependency on B&Bs.
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Councillor Jill Wilshaw, Mid Suffolk cabinet member for housing said: “By reflecting on previous challenges, our new strategy for the next five years looks at reducing homelessness in Mid Suffolk.
“This means earlier identification, free and confidential advice for residents and investment in facilities such as The Foyer in Stowmarket are all crucial if we’re going to make a difference.
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“By identifying at risk residents sooner, we will come closer to ending rough sleeping across our district as well as send fewer individuals to bed and breakfasts.
“This work won’t be completed overnight, but we’re committed to seeing it through and ending avoidable homelessness.”
Among the measures being lined up in the strategy are intervening with people at risk earlier, producing personal housing plans for people and improving the information available online.
The plans also include steps to develop a countywide homelessness partnership, regular check-in sessions to curb repeated homelessness, tie-ups with the Citizens Advice Bureau and better healthcare access for those in the service.
Councillor Jan Osborne, cabinet member for housing at Babergh added: “We’ve learnt from the challenges over the last few years and want to move forward with better provisions for our community. This includes reducing the amount of people becoming homeless through earlier identification, making sure our residents have access to free and confidential advice and investing in housing support facilities.
“We want to identify at risk residents earlier, end rough sleeping across our district as well as become less reliant on bed and breakfasts.
“In the longer term, we hope to see as little homelessness as possible in Babergh.”