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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Success in drive to help Barrow homeless

THE level of homelessness in South Cumbria has reduced over the past year.

A review of the past 12 months showed the number of people approaching Barrow Borough Council to make a homeless application has decreased.

The number of people accepted as homeless has also gone down, and the council said its amount of prevention work has increased significantly.

A report prepared for the council’s executive committee, said: “This is a reflection of the council’s commitment to preventing homelessness by addressing and identifying housing need prior to a person reaching ‘crisis point’.”

Councillor Kevin Hamilton told a meeting of the executive committee: “It says a lot, with what’s going on with austerity and foodbanks, that we’re achieving a reduction through our staff. We’re looking forward and going out to prevent it, instead of waiting for it to happen.”

However, the report showed the number of people approaching the council for help due to vulnerability through mental health has increased significantly.

As a result, the council is providing help to a growing number of people who have multiple needs affecting their ability to secure and sustain accommodation.

A large proportion of the people approaching the council for help to make a homeless application are single. They are mainly men aged under 35 and this has remained consistent over time.

The report said the people approaching the council for advice are typically unemployed and benefit-dependent. It added: “This is increasing in light of welfare reform and is expected to continue to rise with future changes.”

The key reasons for homelessness are people being asked to leave by their landlord and relationship breakdowns.

Councillor Les Graham said: “The report is quite heartening. It shows there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to homelessness. It’s far more widespread than just the housing department and no one agency has the definitive answer to these issues.”

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