"Incredibly concerning" figures have revealed Ipswich has some of the highest numbers of households threatened with homelessness in the country.

Data from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities shows that 2.97 out of every 1,000 households in Ipswich is at risk - more than double the national average of 1.33.

READ MORE: Wellbeing hub plan for Great White Horse Hotel

Claire Staddon, chief executive of Emmaus Suffolk, said a combination of low wage employment and rising rent and mortgage costs had meant that Ipswich had particularly high numbers of people at risk of homelessness.

She said the term 'Just About Managing (or JAM)' could be used to describe the situation faced by many in the town who were often in work, but struggling to pay rents and mortgages.

READ MORE: Emmaus Suffolk launch breakfast bap group for men in Ipswich

The only affordable rents in the town were offered by social landlords, she added, while an increasing number of private landlords were withdrawing their properties from the market because of new regulations, further reducing supply and driving up rental costs.

Her charity can currently provide accommodation for seven people, with plans to expand to provide for nine, but this was nowhere near enough to meet demand, Claire added.

East Anglian Daily Times: Claire Staddon, chief executive of Emmaus Suffolk, was 'disappointed' at the homelessness figures for IpswichClaire Staddon, chief executive of Emmaus Suffolk, was 'disappointed' at the homelessness figures for Ipswich (Image: Charlotte Bond)

She said: "We are acutely aware of the situation and the figures are really disappointing and incredibly concerning.

"My understanding is that if it is to do with the high amount of rented accommodation then the challenge is that there are very few affordable places to rent in Ipswich."

READ MORE: Ipswich news

She added the housing supply needed to be increased and said the borough council was working hard to increase its property portfolio, but 'it does take time'.

She also felt there was a 'soldiering on' mentality locally, which meant that people were not coming forward to access benefits they were entitled to, which could help to ease their plight, while the cost-of-living crisis has also played a big part.

"If you have got a fixed income and your rent is going up then you have got to cut your cloth.

"You know that people are making choices between heating and eating and ultimately, if they don't pay their rent then their accommodation is at risk," Claire added.

As well as providing accommodation, Emmaus Suffolk also runs daily wellbeing hubs and free drop-in sessions for people to have a chat and do creative work.

East Anglian Daily Times: Councillor Alasdair Ross, portfolio holder for housing at Ipswich Borough CouncilCouncillor Alasdair Ross, portfolio holder for housing at Ipswich Borough Council (Image: Newsquest)

Councillor Alasdair Ross, Ipswich Borough Council's portfolio holder for housing said: “The borough council takes a proactive approach to homelessness prevention and our Housing Options team is working hard to meet the extra demand of the Cost of Living crisis.

"We work proactively to prevent homelessness as early as possible with interventions such as debt and money advice, liaising with private landlords and access to grants for moving costs and, in some cases, to help with rent arrears.

READ MORE: Suffolk news

"We are keen for residents to contact the team as early as possible if they think their home is at risk, whatever their circumstances, which could be living with family, private renting, have a social landlord or a mortgage.

"If someone is already homeless or could be homeless within 56 days, we will assist them and also signpost to other services if necessary.”

Elsewhere in the county, the Babergh district had 1.33 households per 1,000 threatened with homelessness, level with the national average, while in Mid Suffolk the equivalent figure was 0.96.

In East Suffolk, 1.19 households per 1,000 were threatened with homelessness, while in West Suffolk the figure was 0.80.

The figures are the most recent available and cover the period from October to December 2022.