Rough sleeper count in Kettering up by 350 per cent

File pic
File pic

The estimated number of rough sleepers in Kettering has risen by more than 350 per cent.

New national statistics released yesterday (Thursday) show that, in autumn 2017, 14 rough sleepers in the borough were counted.

In Autumn 2016 there were just three – a rise of 367 per cent.

Kettering Council spent twice as much as it planned to tackle homelessness this year and is budgeting £798,000 to address it next year.

A council spokesman said: “There has been a significant increase in rough sleeping across the country, and Kettering is no exception.

“This is primarily the result of a lack of affordable housing options for people on low incomes and a reduction in funding for supported housing.

“In Kettering alone, we have lost 37 places for vulnerable young people and another 20 places for people with mental health issues over the past five years.

“The council is working with a range of agencies to provide practical support and advice for people who are sleeping on the street.

“We provide temporary accommodation for all rough sleepers when the temperature falls below freezing point for three consecutive nights and are working with charities to open a night shelter during the course of this year.”

Cllr Mick Scrimshaw, the Labour leader on Kettering Council, says there is a lack of social housing in the town.

He said: “I am not surprised, there is a huge housing problem nationally and that is certainly true and I would suggest more so in Kettering.

“There is a massive lack of social housing in Kettering.

“There is a backlog in housing claims and the council has announced that they are building a few council houses but it nowhere near addresses the problem.”

There was also an increase in the number of rough sleepers in East Northants, with six in 2017 compared to four in 2016.

An East Northants Council spokesman said their housing team works closely with partners across the county to monitor and support those facing homelessness.

They said: “The reasons for people becoming homeless vary and it’s important we all understand that it could happen to anyone.

“We are hearing more stories of people suffering illness so they cannot work and cannot manage bills, some have mental health problems, others are struggling with rent increases or shorthold tenancies coming to an end.

“Some have been evicted because their family is unable to accommodate them for all sorts of reasons such as relationship breakdowns.

“It’s important that people in these situations are helped as quickly as possible to prevent things getting worse and further problems being created (school, health, financial strain, abuse, crime).

“We work with many partners to support those who reach crisis point.

“We provide funds to the Rushden Nightshelter, High Street South and ShoeMaker Court in Rushden who provide emergency accommodation.

“We also provide grants to improve facilities at the shelters and will organise emergency accommodation when necessary including temporary shelter or a B&B.”

The spokesman added that in bad weather the council activates a SWEP – Severe Weather Emergency Protocol.

The spokesman said: “Preventing people reaching crisis point is a priority as no-one wants to find themselves without a home.

“We provide housing advice and benefits support so if your landlord has served notice or you’re in rent arrears, come and talk to us.

“Get that help early before it becomes a bigger problem.”

Wellingborough also saw a notable increase in the number of rough sleepers.

In 2017 12 were estimated, compared to five the year before.

Corby was the only town in the north of the county to see a decrease in the number of rough sleepers.

Last year’s count saw four, down from six in 2016.

Leader of Corby Council, Cllr Tom Beattie, said: “Rough sleeping is something that is very much on Corby Council’s radar and something that we would like to see reducing year after year.

“Our officers work hard to try and locate and offer help to those that are found to be rough sleeping and we would urge those that do find themselves in this extremely unfortunate situation to come and speak to our housing team for advise and help.

“We are particularly lucky here in Corby that we also have other provisions within the town available, such as the Nightlight programme, who help give rough sleepers additional support, food, showers and a bed.”

Wellingborough Council has been contacted for a comment but is yet to respond.