Increased in homelessness to be tackled by new council policy

Bed for the night: Evidence of rough sleeping in Peel Street, Barnsley
Bed for the night: Evidence of rough sleeping in Peel Street, Barnsley
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Homelessness has risen sharply in Barnsley over the last year and now the council is stepping in to control the situation with a new five point plan.

Members of the council’s ruling Cabinet will be asked to approve the new plan when they meet next week and it will involve working with other organisations in an attempt to bring the situation under control.

The council accepts that “homelessness in Barnsley is increasing and its becoming more challenging to successfully prevent homelessness”, with 244 applications for housing from the homeless made last year.

Recent legislation puts more responsibility on local authorities nationally for dealing with those who have no home and in Barnsley the council’s solution has been to set up a system which should see council staff working with other agencies to find answers to the problem.

Most of those affected are single males, aged from 25 to 44, with a range of complex needs, but the council has also identified an increase in the numbers of families which find themselves with nowhere to live.

The new partnership, if adopted, will be called the Homelessness Alliance and will be responsible for developing the strategy around homelessness and putting ideas into action.

Within the council, departments which will play a role include housing, social care, early help, health and community safety, working alongside other agencies.

Reasons for the rise in homelessness are complex but can be attributed to factors including the lack of affordable housing, increasingly choosy private landlords and welfare reforms which leave some facing increased hardship.

However, personal circumstances can also play a role, including the breakdown of relationships, domestic violence, substance abuse and health problems.

Cabinet members will be told: “The focus needs to be on tackling the causes of homelessness not just dealing with the consequences.

“The strategy seeks to set out a collaborative approach to tackling homelessness in Barnsley over the next five years.

“An early help approach has been shown to prevent homelessness and must be the foundation of this strategy. The best way to end homelessness is to stop it happening in the first place. The key to this is early identification and intervention to try and stop people losing their homes in the first instance.”

The five priorities identified for the years ahead include faster action to prevent people losing their homes in the first place and providing high quality advice and assistance for those needing help; supporting those with complex needs to help make sure they are capable of living independently; reducing the demand for temporary housing so bed and breakfast accommodation no longer has to be used; working to ensure people can find homes they can afford; wider partnership working to provide joint services which will achieve maximum impact.

The Cabinet meets on October 17.