New policy to tackle homeless rates in Kettering

GV of Kettering Borough Council offices NNL-140821-111627001
GV of Kettering Borough Council offices NNL-140821-111627001

Kettering Council is bringing in a new policy to help it deal with the rapidly-rising numbers of households becoming homeless.

There are currently 161 households from the borough being housed in temporary accommodation so to try to tackle the issue and cut down on the huge bill it has faced in the past two years, the authority is bringing in new measures.

It has purchased 30 homes which will become available to those made homeless and will be making available a grant of to £5,000 to those who are at risk of losing their homes.

This money can be used towards paying rent arrears or a deposit and rent on a new place to live.

Last year the council’s bill for temporary accommodation was £1.1m and the authority has seen a 244 per cent rise in homeless applications in the past three years.

Many people are being housed in costly bed and breakfasts or have to go out of the borough for a roof over their heads.

The new temporary accommodation policy was given the green light by the authority’s executive team on Wednesday (Sept 19) and will now go to full council for rubber stamping.

The policy outlines how the council will prioritise cases and how it will allocate temporary accommodation.

Asked by council leader Russell Roberts to explain the situation, the authority’s head of housing John Conway said: “There are stereotypes about the people who become homeless and what we are finding is that people come from a much wider range of society than previously thought.

“We are increasingly seeing people in work becoming homeless and who have been evicted through no fault of their own by private landlords.”

The officer said the authority had recently restructured its housing options team to be able to deal with the rising number of homeless cases and had employed tenancy sustainment officers to help people manage their rent payments.

New staff employed by the council in the department have been assessed on their customer service skills and John Conway said the authority had dealt with staff who had not shown empathy towards those coming to the council for help.

Labour councillor Mick Scrimshaw said his opposition party welcomed the new policy and said the new homes would be a much better option than “farming people out to bed and breakfast.”  

He did say that the council still needed to add more to its own council housing stock.

Currently the council owns 3,800 homes in the borough.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service