More than £3k spent on B&Bs for rough sleepers

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WIGAN Council has been forced to spend more than £3,000 to house rough sleepers in bed and breakfasts.

The council spent £3,298 on B&B accommodation for 23 rough sleepers between April and September 2015 due it says to pressures in demand and lack of emergency bed spaces.

In a report for the Confident Places Scrutiny Committee, the council says that demand for No Second Night Out continues to rise with 65 people having accessed the service in the six month period.

The report reveals that while the number of people sleeping rough has reduced, 197 people with complex needs who are vulnerably housed such as sofa surfing approached the welfare desk for assistance.

It also lists the main reasons for statutory homelessness - those owed a duty under the Homelessness Acts - as parents or friends are unwilling to accommodate, the reason in 29 cases, and violent breakdown of relationship involving partner, 21 cases.

Other reasons included non-violent breakdown of a relationship, nine cases, other forms of violence, nine cases, and loss of rented or tied accommodation, seven cases.

In total, there were 215 homelessness presentations between April and September, an increase of five per cent on the same period for the previous year, compared with two per cent increase nationally.

The report also lays out how homeless preventions have increased from 272 in 2006/7 to 1,706 between April and September 2015 and that 62 per cent have been able to stay in their own homes.

129 households were placed in temporary accommodation, an increase of 18 for the same period in 2014 while the number of rough sleepers reduced to three from seven for the previous year.

The report reads: “Despite good performance, pressures are increasing and our ability to cope is due to the successful partnership between the statutory and non-statutory agencies.”

The council said its aims for 2016 include reducing the number of rough sleepers further and to undertake a review of temporary accommodation and ensure the provision is fit for purpose.

The report comes just weeks after the council and its partners’ work to prevent homelessness was recognised as ‘Gold’ standard by national assessors appointed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Coun Chris Ready, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for Housing, said at the time: “We are extremely proud to have achieved this recognition. The homelessness forum has excellent staff from a number of organisations all committed and dedicated to helping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“Our success is all down to effective partnership work between the council and partner agencies who work tirelessly to carry out early intervention.”