‘Unprecedented’ rise in homelessness and 200% increase in social housing applicants
Lewis Smith Local Democracy Reporter
A Welsh council has launched a new housing strategy in order to deal with an “unprecedented” increase in homelessness and the number of people waiting for social housing.
The decision came at a monthly Bridgend Council cabinet meeting held on December 19, where members approved the submission of the authorities five year housing support strategy. It aims to prevent homelessness as well as making sure suitable accommodation is available for people who become homeless.
2,629 applicants on housing register
Council bosses in attendance were given a report which said people waiting on the common housing register had increased significantly over the past four years, with a total of 2,629 applicants on the register as of July 2023, and an increase of more than 200% in new applicants since 2019-20.
It added that the use of temporary accommodation had also “grown exponentially from pre-Covid levels” with 253 households now using temporary accommodation in 2022-23, compared to just 71 households in 2018-19.
The report read: “The use of temporary accommodation has grown exponentially from pre-Covid levels with figures strongly impacted by the ‘All In’ approach during and post Covid.”
The latest figures included within the report said that there were 1,290 applications for people presenting as homeless in 2020-21, adding that the majority of people currently waiting for social housing, were single person households which made up 73% of all applications.
It comes after Bridgend Council announced a budget overspend of more than £10 million earlier this year, with homeless services being named as one of the “pressure” areas.
Officers outlined potential reasons behind the shocking figures, which included a lack of private rented accommodation currently available with the local housing allowance rate, along with a number of legislative changes from Welsh Government.
Plea to Welsh Government
The newly approved council strategy will now look to tackle some these issues in a number of ways. Firstly they will look to increase the supply of rental accommodation to meet the housing needs, through use of Welsh Government social housing grants, and the re-purposing existing buildings.
They will also be implementing a rapid rehousing transitional plan to reduce the reliance on temporary housing, as well as improving collaboration with stakeholders to improve homelessness prevention, and enhancing services for those with complex needs.
Cllr Rhys Goode said he was happy to have got the plans approved by cabinet, though said more funding would be needed from Welsh Government in order for them to meet this growing demand. He said: “I think the thing to note here, as has already been mentioned by the director, is homelessness and housing is facing really unprecedented levels of need at the moment.
He added: “I do hope that we will see more funding coming from Welsh Government to help us make sure that we can look after these people who need our help. As most people know, a lot of people in the UK are one pay cheque away from homelessness, and it could happen to any single one of us, so I think its important for us to reflect on that.”
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