Council plan will help the homeless

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The county council has given the go-ahead to a five-year plan which will aim to further reduce the number of homeless people in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council’s Homelessness Strategy, for the period 2016 to 2021, sets out the priorities and future actions for tackling the issue, in response to a review which considered the current and predicted future levels of homelessness in the county and the existing services and resources available.

During the next five years, the main focus of the plan will be to put significant effort into prevention work and to limit the amount of funding spent on rehousing by aiming to keep those at risk in their own home.

Other priorities in the agreed strategy include improving access to both permanent and temporary accommodation, particularly in the private sector, working with partners to mitigate the impact of the Welfare Reform Act and to provide more housing solutions for young people.

Coun Allan Hepple, council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “I think this is a really good strategy. I think it does the job in terms of its focus on prevention and on youth homelessness.”

He added that the strategy was necessary, and may become more important, in the face of rising rents in the private sector and the Government’s ‘all-out assault on social housing and its tenants’.

Since 2013, Northumberland has lost 33 per cent of its supported housing for young people, with a quarter of all homeless households aged 18 to 24 due to national policy changes in welfare reform,

The most common cause of homelessness in Northumberland was domestic violence (25 per cent).