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St Edmundsbury, Forest Heath, Breackland and Mid Suffolk councils step in to support hundreds of households facing homelessness

More than 150 St Edmundsbury households required council support for homelessness in the run up to last Christmas, new figures reveal.

Following the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in 2017, councils in England must provide support to eligible homeless households as well as those at risk of becoming homeless in the next 56 days.

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows 155 households were due support after applying for help from St Edmundsbury Borough Council between October and December, including 53 families with children.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White with Steve Skeet from Anglia Care Trust which will manage the day-to-day running of the Lake Avenue HMO. (12563790)
Cllr Sara Mildmay-White with Steve Skeet from Anglia Care Trust which will manage the day-to-day running of the Lake Avenue HMO. (12563790)

Of these, 82 – or 53 per cent – were at risk of homelessness, meaning the council worked with them to prevent them losing their home.

The remaining 73 were already homeless, in which case the council has to help them to secure accommodation.

Almost one in six homeless or at risk households in St Edmundsbury, which, since the data was publishing has merged with Forest Heath to become West Suffolk Council, lost their last secure home because their assured shorthold tenancy, the most common type of private rental contract, ended.

There were also 38 households made homeless because their social tenancy came to an end – 25 per cent of the total – while eight came from supported housing, which could include refuges or housing for elderly or disabled people.

All of the social tenants lost their homes because they were behind on their rent.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for housing said: “A huge part of our work is designed to prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place wherever and however we can and the act has given us more power to work with people at risk of homelessness much earlier, which is important.

"In 2017 our housing team assisted or prevented more than 500 West Suffolk households from becoming homeless and between April and November last year we assessed more than 2,000 homelessness prevention cases.”

In the same period (Oct-Dec 2018) in Forest Heath, 94 households were supported regarding homelessness, while in Breckland the total was 123 and Mid Suffolk 68.

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