Kettering Council ‘doing best it can’ to tackle homelessness

James Burton.
James Burton.

Kettering Council’s housing portfolio holder says the authority is doing ‘the best it can’ to cope with the growing number of homeless applications.

The authority has seen a 90 per cent rise in applications recently, with a worrying two in five coming from families with children.

The problem is one that has affected councils across the country, and Cllr James Burton (Con, All Saints) says it is not one members are taking lightly.

He said: “Homelessness is happening throughout the country, not just in Kettering. It is a huge issue at the present time.

“I believe Kettering is coping and it is on the increase, there’s no doubt about that, but we have reasons for that.

“We know what the reasons are and we are putting things in place hopefully to manage with that.”

Cllr Burton said one of the main reasons is people being evicted by private landlords.

He added: “What they’re doing is getting people on a lower rate out and getting people on a higher rate in.

“It’s all to do with business but unfortunately it puts a strain because they’ve got nowhere else to go so they come to us.

“In 2008 prevention came in and we got it sorted but it’s totally different now.”

In recent times the council has worked on a number of ventures to tackle and prevent homelessness.

But, as is the case with many issues, Cllr Burton said the lack of funding restricts what they can do.

He said: “In the past 18 months we’ve launched the Kettering Homeless Prevention Partnership which is attended by 20 partner agencies committed to tackling homelessness and delivering the homelessness strategy.

“We’ve got an action plan and we worked to open Wellington House where we’ve got 21 units of temporary accomodation for vulnerable and single homeless houses.

“It would be nice if we could find somewhere else to do the same sort of thing but it’s all to do with money. Every year the Government grant gets reduced and reduced and we’re having to do more with less.

“I’d love to have this magic wand, as all councillors would, that you could wave and everybody would be so pleased.

“But that’s not the case and you just have to do the best you can.”

With the problem of homelessness still rising despite efforts currently in place it’s clear that all councils, and not just Kettering, must find a new way of tackling the issue.

But what is Kettering Council planning for the future?

Cllr Burton added: “We are exploring the viability of piloting a social rented shared property to increase housing solutions for single customers under the age of 35.

“We’re working with local churches and we’re looking to open a night shelter for rough shelters. We’re seeking to procure private sector lease properties to use as temporary accomodation.

“There’s a number of things there which hopefully will help but it just depends on if [the numbers] keep

rising, and that’s the problem.”