Number of homeless has trebled

By Ian Dipple Friday 30 November 2012 Updated: 04/12 10:30

HOMELESSNESS across Redditch has almost trebled over the last two years as a result of the recession, soaring rents and welfare reforms.

The number of families being accepted by Redditch Borough Council has risen from just 15 in 2009/10 to 43 in 2011/12, an increase of 187 per cent.

But the real homeless figure is likely to be higher as those who slip through the net will not be recorded in the official figures.

As well as the social impact, it is also hitting the council’s coffers as this financial year they are expected to spend £10,000 more than expected on bed and breakfast accommodation.

Demand for council housing is also increasing. Between June 2008 and December 2011 on average 116 applications to join the waiting list were made every month.

There are currently 2,715 people on the list but a review is underway as research suggests some people may no longer want a home but have never been removed.

The National Housing Federation, which highlighted the issue in a report released last week, lay the blame at a failure to build enough affordable housing.

On average Redditch needs to build 168 affordable homes every year to keep up with demand but in 2009/10 only 111 had been built and 100 in 2010/11. The last time it rose above 100 before that was in 2000/2001.

Gemma Duggan, West Midlands lead manager for the NHF, said with private rents expected to rise by almost 50 per cent across the borough by the end of the decade and house prices also expected to recover, homelessness could be the human cost of the housing crisis.

Derek Allen, housing strategy manager for the borough council, said despite the rise, Redditch still had the lowest number of homelessness acceptances in Worcestershire and they were trying to meet demand by preventing homelessness, working with private landlords, bringing empty homes back into use and helping families stay together, as well as building.

Coun Mark Shurmer, responsible for housing on the council, added: “The problem we have is a lack of space so we are making the best use of our existing stock. We are looking at building but we won’t be able to do 168 a year.

“If you look at all the land the council owns you would only be able to get 180 homes altogether, so we are going to have to work with the private sector and housing associations which have the expertise to build homes.”

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