Homeless figures smashed in Dales

The number of people seeking help for homelessness has been slashed over the past nine years thanks to a council scheme.

Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Homelessness Strategy has dramatically reduced the number of approaches from people over housing issues from 305 in 2002/03 to just 133 in 2011/12.

In order to tackle the issue in the Dales the authority decided prevention was better than the cure, and provided funding for services such as debt and financial advice, a schools education project, discretionary housing payments and prison housing advice surgeries.

The success of the strategy has meant the council has saved money in other areas, such as the amount it pays out in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation.

In 2005/06 it paid out £28,000 to bed and breakfasts, this was reduced to £3,000 in 2011/12.

Cllr Lewis Rose, leader of the council, said: “Helping to provide housing that meets local needs continues to be the top priority identified by tax payers, and in addition to increasing the availability of affordable housing – this year we are aiming to build 80 new homes – we are also determined to help vulnerable people in housing need.

“The council continues to focus on homelessness prevention through advice and work with housing providers and through partnership work with agencies such as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Age UK’s Housing Options service.

“The funding for much of our important work related to homelessness comes from the council’s decision eight years ago to tax second homes in the Dales at 90 per cent.

“So we have listened to what residents say they need and since 2002 the council has worked hard on its homelessness strategy and enabled 950 new affordable homes for local people. A couple of years ago the Derbyshire Dales accounted for over a third of new homes built across the whole of Derbyshire

“Indeed, recent housing statistics reveal Derbyshire Dales District Council built more homes than the major urban areas of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, and the fourth highest number of homes in the whole East Midlands region.”

He said he was proud of the council’s reputation when it came to fighting homelessness.