New legislation plays into increase in level of homelessness in Uttlesford
PUBLISHED: 08:33 27 December 2018
New figures show the number of homelessness applications to the council in Uttlesford has increased in the last year.
The number of applications to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) increased to 72 in the first six months of this financial year, compared to 60 in the same period last year.
UDC has attributed this rise to new legislation which came into force in October meaning that people can now go to the council for help within 56 days of being homeless or threatened with homelessness - previously, it was 28 days.
During the last six months, Uttlesford Citizens Advice has advised 14 homeless clients and 28 clients threatened with homelessness as a result of relationship breakdown, domestic violence, eviction or possession action by social or private landlords.
Citizens Advice says it aims to work with clients to stop situations spiralling out of control, working on the principle that prevention is better than cure.
Kate Robson, manager of Uttlesford Citizens Advice, said: “We have a continuing concern about the impact of universal credit for people that are already struggling financially and a general lack of affordable homes in this district.
“We always endeavour to keep clients in their homes, for example by negotiating with landlords or dealing with debt problems to prevent evictions. Where this is not possible, we will look at a client’s homelessness status and work with the district council or local charities and churches to help them secure short term accommodation.”
The number of active prevention cases the UDC housing team are currently dealing with is 41 and these are cases where they are actively working with clients to prevent homelessness or relieve homelessness.
The new legislation that came into force in October has increased the workload of local authorities, particularly with the increase in data that has to be collected and recorded for each case and returned to Government.
Therefore, the council has decided to employ another homelessness prevention officer to help with implementation of the new legislation.
In a report by Judith Snares, UDC’s housing strategy and operations manager, she says: “The private rented sector continues to be unaffordable within this area for most of the people we are seeing. It is therefore essential that the supply of affordable housing is maintained, as for many this is the only housing option that is realistically affordable and sustainable for them.”