The number of people presenting themselves as homeless to Corby Council has more than doubled in the past four years.
The authority says the hike in the number of cases is due to more more people being unable to keep up with the monthly payments for their private rental properties.
In the latest financial year 2017/18 there were 146 homelessness presentations to the authority’s housing options team. This compares to 61 in 2014/15, an increase of 139 per cent.
The latest Overview and Scrutiny Housing Service Update reports that: “The increase in real terms (and an increasing proportion of cases) is due to homelessness from the Private Rented Sector (PRS). PRS rent increases and benefit reductions are also making placing homeless cases into the PRS increasingly difficult.”
Since the start of this month (April) all local authorities have to comply with the new Homeless Reduction Act which has been brought in by the Government to attempt to tackle this growing national issue.
The legislation requires councils to act twice as quickly to help residents threatened with homelessness – within 56 days rather 28.
It also requires councils to provide “meaningful assistance” to all homeless people, regardless of “priority need”.
Before the act came into place homeless people not considered priority need – likely to be single people without children – were eligible only for advice and assistance
Now, councils must help all homeless applicants eligible for support to find accommodation within six months, unless they are transferred to another local authority as they have no local connection.
Corby Council’s report states: “The past few months have seen significant effort going into getting ready for the Homelessness Reduction Act – the biggest single change to homelessness in decades. The overall purpose of this act is to increase the preventional and relief in the first instance.”
To gear up for the new law Corby Council created a role of temporary accommodation co-ordinator and has also taken on a new senior housing advisor. It has been working together with neighbouring councils and visited local authorities recognised as having best practice in this area.
There are currently 1,128 active applications on its housing waiting list.
The town’s homeless charity Nightlight was able to offer a place to stay for the town’s rough sleepers this winter and is aiming to have a permanent base soon.