New hardship fund for homeless

A NEW hardship fund is to be set up to help homeless people, voluntary organisations and those who have got themselves into financial difficulty.

It comes in the wake of a report which revealed a spike in homelessness in the district. In 2011/12, Uttlesford District Council dealt with 59 cases of people presenting themselves as homeless – more than double the 25 in 2010/11.

Portfolio holder for finance Cllr Robert Chambers told cabinet members last week that he intended to use �100,000 from the council’s Emergency Response Reserve to create the new fund.

He said there was currently no temporary accommodation for homeless people in the district, forcing most to be housed in Harlow instead.

“I know what it is like to have genuine hardship because I came close myself a very long time ago,” Cllr Chambers said.

“People get into unfortunate situations through no fault of their own and, if possible, it is better to re-house them in their own district so that relatives can give them support.”

He added that the cash would be used to find accomodation for homeless people in Uttlesford and provide support for voluntary organisations which offer help to people in financial difficulty.

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The cabinet agreed to Cllr Chambers’ proposal, which included making a one-off grant payment of �10,000 to Support 4 Sight after the charity asked the council for financial support.

It means the Emergency Response Reserve – a fund to provide cover for costs incurred by the council for a civil emergency such as an evacuation – will now be reduced from �200,000 to �90,000.