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Huge fall in rough sleeping across Suffolk and Essex revealed

PUBLISHED: 05:23 01 February 2019

The full extent of rough sleeping has been revealed in a new government report. Picture: THINKSTOCK

The full extent of rough sleeping has been revealed in a new government report. Picture: THINKSTOCK

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The number of rough sleepers across Suffolk and Essex has decreased, new government figures have shown.

Outreach workers in Ipswich had already revealed before Christmas that the number of people sleeping on the streets in Ipswich had more than halved compared to the same period last year.

Now statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have shown it has been replicated across other parts of Suffolk, with a decrease of 14% in rough sleeping across the county as a whole.

Essex has seen a 37% drop, meaning both counties are performing significantly better than the national average of a 2% decline.

For the report, each local authority had to count rough sleepers between October 1 and November 30 2018.

In Colchester, the number of rough sleepers decreased by 35%, with 13 rough sleepers when the council conducted its count.

Tina Bourne, portfolio holder for housing and community for Colchester Borough Council, said: “Colchester has seen, like many other large towns, a rise in homelessness and as a consequence rough sleepers.

“Many of these of these people are vulnerable and can be taken advantage of by other people on the street.

“Many of them have drug or alcohol addiction to deal with the difficult conditions they deal with every day.

“We have received funding form the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government which has helped us provided targeted support for those in need. We provide personalised help for individuals to help increase the chance of breaking a rough sleeping cycle.”

The local authority which counted the most rough sleepers in Suffolk was St Edmundsbury.

There were 20 rough sleepers recorded, down two on the previous year. The rate of rough sleepers in the area is 4.2 per 10,000 households - more than double of the national level.

Sara Mildmay-White, West Suffolk councils’ cabinet member for housing, said: “We are realistic to the sad facts that some people we know, will not accept the support that we, or other organisations offer – and we cannot force them to accept our help.

“Equally we know that there are some people that our local residents see on our streets, who are not in fact homeless. We always prefer people to give their money to those local charities that help the people who are in need.”

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