Suffolk: Homelessness summit held today as charity bosses criticise building rates

West Suffolk House in Bury which is home to St Edmundsbury Borough Council

West Suffolk House in Bury which is home to St Edmundsbury Borough Council - Credit: Archant

A SUMMIT on homelessness will be held in Suffolk as charity bosses claim a lack of building has contributed to a housing crisis.

Experts from across the region will gather in Bury St Edmunds today to discuss the size of the homelessness problem in the east of England and how to cope with it.

The National Housing Federation, whose report anticipated a spike in homelessness as a result of economic and welfare changes, together with the Local Government Association (LGA) have invited representatives of housing organisations across the region to the summit to share and improve practice.

Anne Gower, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cabinet member for housing will welcome the delegates. She said: “I am pleased that we are hosting this vital event. As local authorities we focus on preventing homelessness, but we know there is increasing demand for more good-quality temporary accommodation.

“We have to make sure we minimise the use of bed and breakfast and find new ways of housing homeless households. Here in West Suffolk we have a joint group working across two authorities looking for joint solutions - sharing experience, resources and available temporary accommodation.”

In October last year the EADT revealed how 13 families were forced to shelter in B&Bs in St Edmundsbury with 75 households classified as statutorily homeless.

The summit will hear key homelessness trends in the east from ‘Homebound’ author Rhona Brown of the National Housing Federation and about temporary housing solutions from David Bogle, Chief Executive, Hightown Praetorian & Churches Housing Association, Hertfordshire. Tracey Brushett, Regional Homelessness Advisor, will speak about helping local authorities with temporary private sector accommodation.

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Delegates will also share their experiences and plans for out-of-borough temporary accommodation.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of homeless charity Shelter said he hoped Wednesday’s budget would unlock finance to deliver more affordable homes.

He added: “Ultimately, it’s ordinary people who pay the price, with families struggling to meet ever-rising rents and young couples unable to get on the housing ladder no matter what they do. The slump in our construction industry is one of the main reasons we’re facing the threat of a triple-dip recession. We can build our way of out of this, but the Government has to use next month’s budget to unlock the finance to deliver more genuinely affordable family homes.