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North Devon: More people seeking homeless advice

Thursday, 21 December 2023 08:25

By local democracy reporter, Bradley Gerrard

Image: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

Council sees 40% rise

A rising number of people in Mid Devon are seeking advice about homelessness as the cost-of-living crisis takes its toll.

In the past five years, Mid Devon District Council has seen a 40 per cent increase in individuals and families asking for help, as inflation kept the cost of living high.

The council’s scrutiny committee has heard of a year-on-year increase in so-called ‘homelessness presentations,’ in which people ask for assistance or support because they are homeless or threatened with losing their home.

In the six months to the end of September, 423 requests for such help have been sought.

If that figure is repeated in the final six months of the financial year, it would marginally outstrip the 837 figure of last year.

Just five years ago in 2018/19, 597 individuals or families approached the council in such need – about 40 per cent lower than current levels.

A dip in 2020/21 was largely because possession orders for homes were on hold during the pandemic, and notice periods were extended to prevent people becoming homeless during lockdown.

Councillor Rhys Roberts (Conservative, Cadbury) said the rise was “concerning” and asked whether there were any common themes.

Simon Newcombe, corporate manager for public health, regulation and housing, said homelessness was caused by “a multitude of complex reasons” and “it is a signpost to a genuine housing crisis.

“There are issues with supply, the cost of living, mortgage failures, income levels, there are a myriad of reasons for homelessness rising.”

Mr Newcombe added that the council could try to mitigate the problem through its housing strategy, but that “many factors are out of our control.

“As a result, we do have increasing numbers of people turning up at our door unfortunately,” he added.

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